Food Culture in France

France. Cartography by Bookcomp, Inc.

Food Culture in


Food Culture around the World Ken Albala, Series Editor

GREENWOOD PRESS Westport, Connecticut · London

Inc. Food habits—France. users should apply judgment and experience when preparing recipes.5'944—dc22 2006031524 British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data is available. TX719. without the express written consent of the publisher. Copyright © 2007 by Julia Abramson All rights reserved. by any process or technique. .48–1984). No portion of this book may be reproduced. CT 06881 An imprint of Greenwood Publishing Group. 2. I. 88 Post Road West. Title. Food culture in France / Julia Abramson. However. Julia. 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 The publisher has done its best to make sure the instructions and/or recipes in this book are correct.A237 2007 641.greenwood. paper) 1. www. especially parents and teachers working with young Printed in the United States of America The paper used in this book complies with the Permanent Paper Standard issued by the National Information Standards Organization (Z39.Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Abramson. cm. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 2006031524 ISBN-10: 0–313–32797–1 ISBN-13: 978–0–313–32797–1 ISSN: 1545–2638 First published in 2007 Greenwood Press. French. The publisher accepts no responsibility for the outcome of any recipe included in this volume. Westport. p. ISSN 1545–2638) Includes bibliographical references and index. Cookery.—(Food culture around the world. ISBN 0–313–32797–1 (alk.

Major Foods and Ingredients 3. Eating Out 6. Cooking 4. Historical Overview 2.Contents Series Foreword Acknowledgments Introduction Timeline 1. Diet and Health vii ix xi xiii 1 41 81 103 117 137 155 169 171 175 185 Glossary Resource Guide Selected Bibliography Index . Typical Meals 5. Special Occasions 7.


resource guide. Typical Meals.Series Foreword The appearance of the Food Culture around the World series marks a definitive stage in the maturation of Food Studies as a discipline to reach a wider audience of students. and illustrations. Eating Out. bibliography. There is perhaps no better way to understand a culture. Each also includes a glossary. In comprehensive interdisciplinary reference volumes. each on the food culture of a country or region for which information is most in demand. and develop unique cuisines reveals much more about what it is to be human. preoccupations. Special Occasions. Historical Overview. Finding or growing food has of course been the major preoccupation of our species throughout history. I am honored to have been associated with this project as series editor. It provides the material basis for rituals through which people celebrate the passage of life stages and their connection to divinity. and fears. and foodies alike. its values. Cooking. Food preferences also serve to separate individuals . with a chronology of food-related dates and narrative chapters entitled Introduction. a remarkable team of experts from around the world offers a deeper understanding and appreciation of the role of food in shaping human culture for a whole new generation. than by examining its attitudes toward food. and Diet and Health. Food provides the daily sustenance around which families and communities bond. Major Foods and Ingredients. Each volume follows a series format. come to esteem or shun specific foods. general readers. but how various peoples around the world learn to exploit their natural resources.

or going out to a famous Michelin-starred restaurant in France.viii Series Foreword and groups from each other. emotionally and spiritually become what we eat. we wish to keep alive. whether from our own heritage or that of others. and as one of the most powerful factors in the construction of identity. These books are thus not only about the food and culture of peoples around the world. we physically. Whether it is eating New Year’s dumplings in China. What seems strange or frightening among other people becomes perfectly rational when set in context. Ken Albala University of the Pacific . folding tamales with friends in Mexico. As globalization proceeds apace in the twenty-first century it is also more important than ever to preserve unique local and regional traditions. but also ultimately a more profound respect for the peoples who devised them. In many cases these books describe ways of eating that have already begun to disappear or have been seriously transformed by modernity. but also about ourselves and who we hope to be. understanding these food traditions helps us to understand the people themselves. By studying the foodways of people different from ourselves we also grow to understand and tolerate the rich diversity of practices around the world. To know how and why these losses occur today also enables us to decide what traditions. It is my hope that readers will gain from these volumes not only an aesthetic appreciation for the glories of the many culinary traditions described.

and thoughtful participants in the culture of their own country. and it is for my parents. their conversation and friendship. This book is for them. and Charles Walton. Alison Matthews-David. and Wendi Schnaufer. Beatrice Fink. Discerning eaters and accomplished cooks. who nourished my interest in food from the very beginning. Norman Stillman. editor for the Greenwood Press world food culture series. Through her good humor this book has been much enriched. to research and write. senior editor at the Press. and Carolin C. Barbara Ketcham Wheaton. Ken Albala. Thanks are due to the wonderfully supportive community of scholars interested in food history and in France. made it possible for me to write this book. that to my cousin Charlotte Berger-Grenèche and to Franç ois Depoil is by far the greatest. Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson. . I have been traveling regularly to France to live and work. generous hosts. Charlotte and Franç ois more than anyone else have taught me what it means to eat à la française. Young shared with me their enthusiasm for French food and have steadfastly encouraged mine.Acknowledgments For two decades and more. I am profoundly grateful for this hospitality and for these many personalized introductions to the food cultures of France. Of all my debts. wit. I am grateful to Kyri Watson Claflin. and precision to what must have seemed like endless questions about her family life. many people have opened their doors to me and shared their meals and food lore. In this time. who read drafts of these chapters. Layla Roesler responded with grace. convivial.

At the University of Oklahoma a special thank you goes to Paul Bell. Arnold Matthews. hard work. I thank the undergraduate students who have taken my seminars on food and culture (Honors College) and on French food and film (Program in Film and Video Studies) and the graduate students in my course on French gastronomic literature (Department of Modern Languages. Finally. and conversation across cultures. and their questions usually led us all directly to the heart of the matter. Hervé Depoil. Helga Madland. Nadine Leick. Janine Depoil. and frank questions.x Acknowledgments For the photographs I am indebted to Philippe Bornier. . Pamela Genova. and Christian Verdet. Edward Sankowski. food. They have been generous beyond measure for the sake of friendship. Zev Trachtenberg. and Linguistics). Literatures. For their enthusiastic participation. and of course to Sarah Tracy. Many of the passages in this book were written with my students in mind. Andy Horton. colleagues and students at the university where I have taught for the last seven years have supported my engagement in the study of food history and cultures. Their unfailing intellectual curiosity fueled my own enthusiasm for the topics covered in this volume. My warm thanks especially to Hervé Depoil for doing le maxi.

Nonetheless.F. soothing. the ideal for an elegant. Of course. the many French cookbooks published in the United States since the mid-twentieth century have guided experiments in the kitchen. or a fragrant piece of baguette still warm from the oven has perhaps been a gastronomic revelation. and Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. as well. a few clichés persist. nourishing soups.Introduction Nearly every American has some idea about French food. For curious home cooks. a bite of milky crisp fresh almond. a plate of silky foie gras. M. The export of Champagne and adaptations of the breakfast croissant have made these items standard units in the international food currency. For those who dine out. and stimulating. and tantalizing sausages. Since the Second World War. Arm-chair travelers will have read the great American chronicles of life and food in France.K. people are much . such as Samuel Chamberlain’s columns in the early issues of Gourmet magazine. glamorous restaurant meal is often a French one. generations of resourceful cooks have perfected ingenious yet practical ways of transforming the meanest bits of meat and aging root vegetables into rich stews. however. For those who have traveled abroad. Fisher’s memoirs. it is an error to imagine that these murky creatures play a large role in everyday eating. Snails and frogs feature in the cuisine. What interested eater would not be moved by French food? In poorer kitchens. The subtle coherence of flavors and the dignified unfolding of the several-course meals that are now standard are at once seductive. affluence has reshaped the diet for much of the French population.

The bibliography at the end of the volume lists the references consulted for each chapter and includes a list of cookbooks. To understand the full significance of the table customs. as a nation? Why. trends in restaurant cooking. over time? How is it that the French cultivate pleasure rather than count calories. to the writings of historians and cultural critics. secular individualists march practically in lockstep to the dining room. an attempt is made to provide both the historical information necessary to illuminate contemporary food culture and full descriptions of today’s practices. It is hoped that these resources as well as the selection of Web sites and films will provide the reader with a point of departure for further exploration. including workday meals. from cookbooks and personal experience. rather than appearing on the table all at once? How is it possible to eat this succession of foods without becoming uncomfortably full. at noon. causing nearly everything from Dunkerque to Cannes to grind to a halt for the sacred lunch break? Why do the French themselves regard eating lunch in school and business cafeterias as an anomaly. the approach is inclusive.xii Introduction more likely to shop for food at one of the many discount stores than at picturesque outdoor markets. hard-working. As the aim has been to provide a three-dimensional picture of food customs. the book also treats the issues of why and how foods are eaten. when the country actually has the best-developed and most heavily used canteen system in Europe? Food Culture in France answers these questions and many others. The chapters that follow draw on a wide range of sources. to recent studies by ethnologists and sociologists. and desperately unhealthy. from meal to meal. Why is it that the different dishes in an everyday meal are eaten successively in separate courses. Bonne lecture (happy reading) and bon appétit! . although these are practically a national treasure. attitudes toward health. That the French drink only rarefied bottled spring waters (when not drinking wine)is in fact one of the new myths. Throughout. celebration meals. The recipes that appear in the text correspond to a few of the typical dishes that come under discussion. So what do the 60 million French of today really eat on a daily basis? Here is the essential question that this book addresses. yet in fact enjoy an unusually high standard of health. public policy addressing food quality. and changing views of wine. does this population of productive.

E. Old Stone Age nomads hunt big game and gather plants for food.Timeline ca. and hazelnuts.C.C. 16.C. Humans eat mollusks.E.C. Forest animals such as deer and wild boar multiply. cattle. . make hunting easier.C. 800 B. 10. Greek merchants from Phocaea establish a colony at Massilia (Marseille) where they plant olive trees for oil and grape vines for wine.E. Food sources change as glaciers recede.C.000–14. New Stone Age people farm and tend herds. elements in the Mediterranean diet. ca. corn. Forests provide berries.E.C.000 B. The bow and arrow.000 B. and the companionship of domesticated dogs. 600 B. 30. Charcoal and ochre drawings of bulls and reindeer in the Lascaux Caves in the Dordogne show main Ice Age food sources. barley.E. including snails. goats. Domesticates include sheep. Reindeer retreat to colder northern regions.E. and millet. Iron Age Celts fit iron cutting edges on ploughs used to till soil.E. improving farm production. 8000 B.000–9000 B. chestnuts. 6000 B.

Saint William of Gellone. The Salic legal code issued in Paris under King Clovis specifies punishments for anyone who attacks a neighbor’s grape vines. 1317 1341 1468 . People clear forest and drain marshland to cultivate grains for bread. The population grows. Renaissance elites are conspicuous consumers.xiv 51 B. cumin. sheep (Ardennes). The abbot Adalhard of Corbie records that monks are adding hops flowers to their ale. forces Saracen warriors to retreat from the southern territories. Louis VI (The Fat) allows fishmongers to set up stands outside his palace walls in Paris.E. one of Charlemagne’s paladins. The site becomes the market Les Halles. The Valois monarch Philip VI (1293–1350) introduces the grande gabelle (salt tax) in the north. 585 780 822 1000–1300 1110 1148. 1204 1150–1310 1315. Flemish and Italian merchants arrive with spices and other exotics. Legend has it that he concealed his troops in wine barrels. cinnamon. A Roman-style forum or market and public meeting space is added to each Gallic town. The feast for Charles the Bold of Burgundy’s wedding 19 B.C. geese (Artois). making true beer. Cannibalism and crime follow widespread famines. cardamom. chronicler Gregory of Tours notes that people supplemented wheat flour with pounded grape seeds and ferns. Timeline Julius Caesar annexes Gallic lands to the Empire. 481–511 C. cloves. and sugar. Languedoc).C. mace and nutmeg. City and monastic trade fairs in the Champagne region are international.000 cubic yards) of water to urban areas. The Roman-engineered Pont-du-Gard aqueduct daily transports 20. ginger. Knights and soldiers return from the First and Second Crusades bringing lemons and spices: saffron. and wine (Roussillon.E. In The History of the Franks (593–94). Gallic regional specialties include grain (Beauce).000 cubic meters (about 26. Famine forces innovation in bread-making.E.

The “digester” efficiently reduces solid foods nearly to liquid. 1600 1606 1651 1667 1669 1672 1681 1685 . Protestants flee. and 1. Within the decade the Café Procope. Physician and priest François Rabelais publishes the novel Gargantua. but chaircutiers (charcutiers) sell cooked and cured pork and raw pork fat. 3. 1476 King Louis XI (1461–1483) decrees that butchers slaughter pigs and sell raw pork. in residence in England. François Pierre de La Varenne publishes the cookbook Le Cuisinier françois. Coffee is sold at a temporary café at the St. Henri IV (1589–1610) declares his wish that “every peasant may have a chicken in the pot on Sundays.640 pigeons. Courtiers now use forks. and the country reverts to strict observance of Catholic feast and fast days. chocolate.600 shoulders of mutton. Suleiman Aga. invents the pressure cooker. For flavoring. 63 pigs.000 pounds of lard. Germain fair. 3.” Hunger and poverty are widespread. 2. 1. Louis XIV revokes the Edict of Nantes (1598).800 chickens. and vanilla.640 swans. 11.668 wolves. peppers. the first successful café in France and still in business today. 18. 2. Peasant families who survived the bubonic plague and Hundred Years War and Wars of Religion clear land to plant new crops: cold-hardy buckwheat and New World maize. will open in Paris.Timeline xv includes 200 oxen. Turkish ambassador to the court of Louis XIV. serves coffee at Versailles. but Louis XIV (1643–1715) uses his fingers to eat.500 calves. maize. Physicist Denys Papin. Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus encounters foods hitherto unknown in the Old World: sweet potatoes.500 sheep. about a race of giants. 2.100 peacocks. he privileges herbs and onions over spices. 1486 1492–1494. 1502 1534 ca. The manuscript Le Viandier by Guillaume de Tirel (Taillevent) appears in print as an early cookbook. Massive feasts are central to the social satire.

They concede to his demands for the restored Bourbon monarch. vegetables. Two years later he modernizes the meal: he recommends serving dishes one by one in sequence. The National Assembly abolishes the hated and much-abused salt tax. Louis XVI sends troops against the newly formed National Assembly.” Pictures of apples and cider bottles in Normandy and ducks at Alençon visually connect taste to place. With the help of Louis XVI. intimate suppers over state banquets and personally makes omelets and coffee for selected guests. Modern-style restaurants. which costs nearly 60 percent of their income. In prison since late January 1791. and fruits to provision Napoleon’s troops. Louis XV (1715–1774) favors small. diplomat. Louis XVI dies at the guillotine. At the Congress of Vienna after the Napoleonic wars. Most people subsist on bread. with menus and private tables. Famine and grain riots break out. so that they can be enjoyed hot. the naturalist AntoineAuguste Parmentier promotes the still-unpopular potato as an alternative to grains. la gabelle. Louis XVIII. and a mob retorts by attacking the Bastille prison. Peasants and urban dwellers riot to protest grain shortages. Grimod de la Reynière publishes the first narrative restaurant guide for Paris. He preserves meats. bishop. and noted gourmand CharlesMaurice de Talleyrand-Périgord wines and dines European ministers. he has been eating several-course meals while famine plagues France.xvi 1709 1735 Timeline An unusually cold winter sets in early and kills crops. Nicolas Appert opens a vacuum-bottling factory. Rioting abounds during the Revolution and hunger is prevalent. Cadet de Gassicourt publishes a “gastronomic map. The 1760s 1775 1785 1787 1789 1790 1793 1803 1804 1808 1814–1815 . open in Paris.

Prussian troops occupy the capital. 1859 1861 1870 1870s 1883 1892 1903 1905 1919 1927 1940 1943 . Louis Pasteur applies heat and pressure to sterilize milk. rationing allows for 1. which simplifies and systematizes the sauces and cooking methods that compose elegant cuisine. Life expectancy drops by eight years. The law will stand until it is integrated into the European food safety code in 1993. Grape phylloxerae devastate vines across France. The black market for food flourishes. Parliament rules that only wine bottled within the demarcated Champagne area may be labeled as “Champagne. Import duties on sugar make it unaffordable to most.” France capitulates to Germany during the Second World War. Meat prices escalate. Bread is rationed. Jules Méline draws up protectionist tariffs for agricultural production. A new federal law prohibits fraud in the sale of food. The network of trains encourages peasants to farm beyond self-sufficiency and to specialize. the technology that was the basis for the first industrial refrigerators. Chef Auguste Escoffier publishes Le guide culinaire. Indochina (1859–1863). Under German occupation during the Vichy period. Tunisia (1881).Timeline xvii great chef Marie-Antoine Carême is Talleyrand’s right-hand man for political strategy at table. Ferdinand Carré demonstrates his ammonia absorbtion unit. The Orient Express makes its inaugural run from Paris to Constantinople. and desperate Parisians resort to eating zoo animals. Food prices are at a premium. The colonial empire will expand to include Senegal (1857). 1830 French forces take Algiers. and Morocco (1912). with several-course meals served in elegant restaurant cars.200 calories per day per person.

He emphasizes small portions. avoids salt and animal fats. Chef Paul Bocuse and baker Lionel Poilâne unsuccessfully lobby Pope John Paul II to remove gourmandise (gluttony) from the list of the Seven Deadly Sins. The law (of August 2004) that called for this measure aimed to reduce the consumption of sweets and sugared drinks associated with rising obesity levels among children and young people. To protest against junk food and the presence of foreign corporate interests in the local food chain. globalization. 1965 1977 1990s 1999 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 . then rises again. vegetables.” Robert Courtine’s pseudonym evokes Grimod de la Reynière. The weekly newspaper Le Monde runs a column on dining called “The Pleasures of the Table” signed “La Reynière. Avian flu detected in chickens in Pas-de-Calais. Consumption of chicken drops in March. and fruits. farmer José Bové vandalizes a partially constructed McDonald’s restaurant in Millau. Chef Michel Guérard serves cuisine minceur—light or diet food—at his spa and restaurant.xviii 1949 Timeline Bread rationing is lifted. All automatic vending machines are gone from public schools by the time the fall term begins. and favors lean meats. The Tour d’Argent restaurant in Paris serves its onemillionth canard à presse (roasted pressed duck). Press reports defend the national cuisine in a society marked by Europeanization. Half of all French households own a refrigerator. and the presence of immigrant cultures. Debate continues over whether genetically modified foods and advertising for fast food should be banned in France and Europe. the First Empire restaurant guide author.

) paintings on cave walls from about 35. and goats were also kept and may have been moved according to the same practice of transhumance. People now cultivated emmer and einkorn (old types of wheat) and naked barley. and leaves. Cosquer. Around 8000 B. in addition to hunting.C.000 B. Font-de-Gaume. they hunted horses and aurochs. In cooler northern regions.C. first as wild grasses. sometimes grazing the herds seasonally in different locations. When climate change caused the extinction of big game. nuts. Paleolithic or Old Stone Age (earliest times to 6000 B. Pigs. people made a gradual transition from foraging for food to farming. During the New Stone Age.1 Historical Overview ORIGINS The earliest peoples in what is now France likely garnered the largest portion of their food from plants. Neolithic populations managed animals. About 500. They herded cattle. rye and oats flourished. chickpeas.E. and Niaux show animal food sources and other creatures—lions. nomadic forerunners of modern humans ranged north from Africa into western Europe. and lentils came under cultivation.E.E.C. rhinoceros. mammoths—that probably had spiritual significance. they stored extra grain in pits dug into the ground and in pots. During winter.E. Chauvet. roots. .000 years ago. Stone Age peoples domesticated dogs as hunting companions. These hunter-gatherers foraged in field and forest for berries. sheep. The innovations of agriculture and pottery that define the Neolithic period came west from the Fertile Crescent to Europe in about 6000 B. at Lascaux.000 to 15.C. then as tended crops. Peas.

The ideal diet of classical antiquity was based on three cultivated foods: wheat. including cooking implements. After the required sacrifices had been made to appease the gods.) mark shifts toward technology that maintained more populous civilizations. shell. and quantities of snails added to the list of animal protein eaten in the Neolithic period. and shellfish were eaten.). and valued conversation as an integral part of the meal. eels. During the Age of Metals.E. Pulses in the everyday diet . Wealthy Greeks loved meat (beef. drying. but it was not considered everyday fare. bronze (about 1800–700 B.E. sand. The use of copper. wine. The grains were eaten as porridge or baked into bread or unleavened biscuit if ovens were available. including literary and philosophical traditions and both urban and pastoral ways of life. pork). hedgehog. Fish. shared banquet in a private home drank wine mixed with water only after eating. This added another technique to spit-roasting. and oil. the Greeks had developed the civilization that underpins much of Western culture. smoking.2 Food Culture in France Boar. this was the earliest introduction of the Mediterranean diet based on bread. Cheese featured frequently in meals.C. Populations living on the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts and on rivers harvested shellfish and fish. People made wide-mouthed vessels using bits of bone.E. with little concern for cut or texture. grapes. and heating mixtures by dropping in hot rocks. a few Phocaeans (Greeks from Asia Minor) looking for new territory established colonies that they called Massilia (Marseille) and Agde. and olives. In the colonial centers of Greek civilization. bringing their eating customs and essential foods. meat was carefully distributed or else sold off in portions equal in size. and the large domesticates were killed ceremonially. The additions strengthened the clay so that the pots could be placed directly on a fire. or grog (pulverized burnt clay) as a tempering medium. When the Phocaeans arrived in the new colonies with their vines and fruit. GREEKS ON THE CÔTE D’AZUR In about 600 B. and then iron (from about 700 B. The end of the Neolithic period saw the incorporation of metals into the arsenal of tools. The invention of pottery changed cooking and storage in the New Stone Age. For the common person. along with the all-purpose salty flavoring sauce garos (Roman garum or liquamen) made of fermented fish. elite diners participating in a symposion or convivial. lamb. beaver.C. flint.C. hare. the building blocks for most meals were barley or wheat and pulses.

There is a popular idea that Celts feasted constantly on roast wild boar.C. horses. CELTIC ANCESTORS Tribes of Indo-Europeans that originated in Hallstadt (present-day Austria) and swept west by around 700 B. Celts ate meat primarily from domesticated oxen or cattle and pigs. Greeks brought with them knowledge of the all-important vegetables onion.000 square kilometers (about 450 to 750 square miles).Historical Overview 3 included lentils. The land was left as open fields that members of the tribe worked in common. Children know this story from the famous cartoons that Goscinny and Uderzo published beginning in the early 1960s about the rotund character Astérix the Gaul and friends. Many of the Celtic deities such as the matrons or mother-goddesses were associated with fertility and with flowers. apples. Figs and grapes. cups. Celtic civilization was based on farming and animal husbandry. fruits. and pomegranates were the bestknown fruits.200 to 2. The Greeks called these peoples Galatai or Keltoi. including places for eating out such as kapêleia or taverns that served wine and inexpensive bar food. milk. including flagons. As the cities grew.E. spits. governance was decentralized within tribes headed by a warrior elite and the families that composed each tribe. bowls. They wrought a range of cooking and eating utensils. and developed advanced metalworking techniques such as soldering and the use of rivets. and grains. and early forms of cauliflower and lettuce. Celts in northern Europe mined iron and lead. They cultivated cabbages. To support farming. Sheep. developed a diet based on meat. and capers. including a benevolent druid. the Romans would name them Gauls. gold and silver. and fava or broad beans. pears. and serving platters. The prehistoric Celts (their language was oral) have a special place in the collective imagination as the ancestors of the modern French. garlic. chickpeas. It appears that they domesticated the hare and species of ducks and geese. carrots. which were made into salads and cooked dishes. they manufactured innovative iron ploughs. cauldrons. Rather. goats. plums. and ale. as well as grains. so did their institutions. They did not construct a unified empire or kingdom. Tribes occupied swathes of land that measured about 1. At their most populous. gourds. giving the name Celts. and reapers. the Celts in Gaul probably numbered between 6 and 9 million. The city of Paris derives its name from the Celtic Parisii tribe that settled in the Île-de-France. and dogs were less common. harrows. grills. quinces. It is certainly true that .

Ties between the Celtic and the Mediterranean civilizations enlarged the diets. for their part. Exposed to wooden barrels. the first imperial dynasty was established in 27 B.E. remarked in his Deipnosophistae (Professors at Dinner.4 Food Culture in France wild boar roamed the forests. 200–230) that the Celts were heavy drinkers who tossed back their wine undiluted with water. and tools. provoked ravenous Rome. amber and salt. ingots.C. as they periodically migrated in search of land. Since the inception of the republic in the fifth century B. They made cheeses.” nearest Rome) populations sacked Rome in 387 (or 390) B. butter). wine took on the pitchy or resinous flavor of the jar seal.C. Where the Greeks and Romans kept wine in amphorae (clay jars). Meats. the tribes relied on their fields and barnyards.C. Butchers specialized in making hams and sausages and were greatly admired for their facility with curing pork. olive oil. and slaves with neighboring tribes and with other populations. and smoking. and Arabia as provinces. Celts traded metal jewelry. meat.E. ca. wine drunk by the Celts must have developed some flavors like those prized by today’s oenophiles. drank milk from their herds. hides from their animals. fat from meat and milk (lard. Celts used wooden barrels for more convenient storage and transport. and brewed ale (beer without hops) from grain. but hunting was restricted to elites.. and vegetables. but they could not get enough of the heady southern wines that they traded up from Massilia and Rome. The familiarity bred by commerce between the different populations also prepared the way for Rome’s annexation of Celtic lands to the Empire in 51 B. Rome ballooned. and Celts hunted them in self-defense. and cool-weather grains associated with the Celts typified the diet in what later became northern France.. Celts. the Greek writer from Naucratis (Egypt) who moved to Rome at the end of the first century. productive Celtic territories were a temptation not to be resisted by the Romans. Syria. North Africa. drying. wine.C. and the constantly campaigning legions of the vast military machine required a solid diet of wheat bread.E. Bellicose Cisalpine (from “this side of the Alps. They cultivated some grapes in the north. The legions butted heads with the tribes for two centuries before the general Julius Caesar was sent to quell them. coins. Athenaeus. cheese.E. subsuming far-off Dacia (Romania). For food.E. Urban Romans were consumers in need of provisions. They mined salt and developed techniques for preserving meat and fish through salting. Stored in amphorae. and made incursions elsewhere. meat products. In 52 B. ROMAN GAUL The fertile.C. he won a decisive victory against the Gallic .

The mensae primae (main course or courses) offered meats and poultry and were accompanied by wine mixed with water. the Greek physician Galen. Propped up on their left elbows. with a courtyard and triclinium or dining room. The gustatio or promulsis (first course) featured vegetables. attitudes toward diet and health were shaped by the prevailing theory of the humors. recommended choosing foods with qualities (hot. and so a few people had knowledge of quite exotic foods. black bile. and the remains of public baths also persist. phlegm) as the way to maintain good health. dining habits at their most luxurious drew on Greek manners. and Arles are still used today for concerts. Nîmes. Rivers demarcated Gallia Belgica from Celtica (later Gallia Lugdunensis) and Aquitania. gastronomic specialties from across the Empire. they politely touched food only with the right hand. and bull-fighting. Among the educated. with anywhere from two to seven courses. The Romans built roads for their military but also to the benefit of traders. and the agricultural riches of Gaul itself. A cena (fancy dinner) finished with mensae secundae or fruits. Continuing Hippocratic tradition. plays. Greek ways were considered the most elegant and civilized. The colony at Massilia was a destination for Romans as for Romanized Celts—Gallo-Romans—who sought an education and cosmopolitan finish. with the usual military outposts throughout. Beyond the Rhine lay Germania and to the south Provincia (later Narbonnensis) and Cisalpina. Amphitheatres at Orange. The food at a convivium or dinner party could be elaborate. nuts. they centralized political conduits. and they sought vintages from the best locations across the . operas. cold. which were supposed to be balanced through diet. and desserts. who worked in the Roman context during the second century.Historical Overview 5 leader Vercingétorix. Wealthy citizens designed their houses to follow the Roman style. Sophisticated wine drinkers tracked yearly variations in quality. City walls. For Gallo-Romans. dry. yellow bile. They undertook huge public projects in durable stone for the cities. Roman trade provided links even to India and China. Using the old tribal divisions of land as a basis for latifundia or large farms with attached estates. A year later. Elegant diners reclined rather than sat. aqueducts (such as the Pont-du-Gard and those built to supply Vienne). and the oppida or hill-forts for civitates or administrative structures. At least for the wealthiest eaters. soft and hard wheats. fish. the “three Gauls” or large divisions of Celtic territories had become provinces. and spelt were available in Gaul. Emmer. Eating customs evolved from the Roman adaptations of Greek precedents. trade enlarged the food choice provided by the local produce. The Romans did much to unify and urbanize Celtic lands. wet) appropriate for one’s personal balance of the four bodily humors (blood. and eggs.

and Gallo-Romans. and famine added to the general unrest and misery. the Celtic heritage echoes primarily in words that pertain to agriculture and in place names. By about the fifth century. and beets. turnips. bass. and sun.6 Food Culture in France provinces. crushing taxes. oysters from present-day Brittany and Normandy were esteemed a delicacy. rue. asparagus. Germanic tribes crossed west over the Rhine River to settle in Gaul. celery seed. preparing the way for the development of French. and wild boar and deer caught on the hunt were prized. tuna. dates. wrasse. and Burgundians. bay. In the modern language. cumin. The Roman army that defeated Attila the Hun in 451 near Troyes was anchored by tribal Germans—Franks. Celts. there were leeks. hazelnuts. Snails were popular. plague. chestnuts. mint. and cows gave milk for cheese as well as meat. peaches (from Persia). Guinea fowl (originally from Numidia). the few remaining Breton speakers trace their culture back to the Celts. the Romans encouraged British Celts to migrate back to the Continent to defend depopulated Brittany. some were used in perfumes. Latin penetrated even to rural areas. saffron. parsley. decadent emperors. hens. arbutus fruits. octopus. The tribal leader Odoacer the Goth deposed the last Roman emperor in the . and coriander. In the late third and fourth centuries. sea urchin. and scallops. apples. Other herbs included rosemary. lettuces. During the fifth century. Today. bringing a new wave of northern influence on diet. Federations and alliances already existed among Germans. cucumbers. caraway. Figs. Germanic Visigoths crossed out of Italy and were settled in Gallic Aquitaine. myrtle. gourds. pears. thyme. grapes. Domestic sheep. overextended Roman Empire crumbled during the fourth century. mallow. During the last imperial centuries. Among the herbs and spices. partridges. goats. mustard. pennyroyal. rocket. Spices were valued as flavorings in elite cooking. Visigoths. lovage nearly always combined with black or long pepper. The list of fruits and nuts grew ever longer as produce was imported from afar. Garum or fish sauce—made off the Atlantic coast from fermented mackerel and tuna—and allec or fish pickle were common.or smoke-dried raisins were basics. contributing to urban decline. FRANKS FROM RHINELAND As the exhausted. and pine nuts (pine kernels) were eaten. pistachios. For vegetables. and pheasant gave eggs and provided roasts. juniper berries (native to Gaul). traded from India in exchange for gold. The Mediterranean gave fish and shellfish including mackerel. sour cherries. walnuts. Gallic elites left the cities. Sorb apples (related to serviceberries).

Romanized Gauls considered themselves elegant and civilized. as well as in their own discernment. They hunted game and ate domesticated meat. Both Romans and Christians complained about the reek of rancid butter that was said to announce a German. they farmed and herded in the intervening years. including poultry. the favored beverage. West in 476. which they thought gave them strength to wage war. Franks made hard cider from apples and grew rye. Hardy spelt. They fished. some Germanic pagan rites required the conspicuous display of ale casks in the middle of dwellings. and the men also used butter to condition their characteristic long hair and flowing beards. grew wheat and barley. They roasted meat and made stews. They took pride in Gallic particularities and in the classical heritage. like the Celts. This is clear . Although the Franks made periodic migrations. was the preferred grain.Historical Overview 7 Shellfish merchant bringing coastal oysters and mussels to the Saint Antoine market in Lyon. using barley or oats to thicken the mixture. Courtesy of Hervé Depoil. although lower in yield and in gluten than wheat. But it was the powerful Franks who exerted the most lasting influence within future French territory. They steadfastly preferred their own butter and lard over southern olive oil. in contrast to the Germans. gathered berries and nuts from the forests. and made ale.

Roman fish sauce is categorically forbidden. draws on the cookbook author Apicius for recipes and on Galen for medical advice. Bread and wine. instead of meat. His pastoral poem Mosella catalogues the edible fish in the tributary of the Rhine named in the title (the Moselle).1 A century later. Romans characterized Germans as uncouth rustics and fickle. in particular of the lamb that Jews offered up in temples. Christian ritual was overlaid on pagan celebrations of grain and the harvest. Christianity had the greatest staying power. As part of the Catholic rite of communion. they found humane treatment at the hands of the barbarians. His treatise De observatione ciborum (On the Observance of Foods). Diners reclined. addressed to the Frankish king Theuderic (d. whose writings date to about 440. Ceremonial cups of wine were drunk throughout. fighters. Meats and beer are recommended. it became the official religion of the Roman Empire. . had no special liking for the Germans. A variety of foods were eaten in courses. By the end of the fourth century under Theodosius. Bread was preferred over meat. Christianity penetrated first in the southern parts of Gaul where the Germanic traditions held less sway.2 GALLO-CHRISTIANS In Gaul Christian food practices that evolved from Judaic and Mediterranean traditions had the distinguishing cast of asceticism. Yet he observed that educated and well-born individuals around him were casting their lot with the Goths and Franks. mystery religions involving the worship of a dying god (such as Isis or Mithras) who was then reborn became popular. like the recommendations for sexual abstinence. The moralist Salvian of Marseille. 534). In a time of unrest. acquired a powerful symbolic association to sacrifice in Christianity. Of these. The meatless diet avoided sacrificial carnage. The rejection of meats. The practice of self-denial and also self-definition through the refusal of habits perceived as typical characterized the early Christian approach to food. local river salmon and trout are indicated. while noble Rome had turned uncivilized. In the first and second centuries.8 Food Culture in France in the fourth-century writings of Decimus Agnus Ausonius. and he wrote an encomium to the wines and oysters of his native Bordeaux. though formidable. the physician and ambassador Anthimus balanced the classical heritage with the Germanic present. Yet Anthimus makes concessions to the intended reader and the available food supply. is an example of asceticism as well as a populist touch and concession to necessity. The disparaging comments should be taken with a grain of salt. Early Eucharistic (thanksgiving) meals borrowed from Jewish Passover seders and Greco-Roman banquets.

Some won privileges for their monasteries to import luxury foods such as pepper. More commonly. to consume him. If asceticism and fasting characterized early Christianity. mandated hospitality to guests and to any pilgrim as a basic tenet of monastic life. the Rule of Benedict of Nursia (d. To be sure. fruits or vegetables in season. By miraculous transubstantiation. The communicant directly incorporated his god. wine in limited quantity. father of monasticism in the West. Gallic bishops financed banquets to alleviate the hunger of the poor. servings from two cooked dishes. they could entertain elite visitors. The principles of inclusion and generosity were not always put into practice. monasteries participated in trade networks. He remained so through the early eighteenth century. To eat a meal was to commune with fellow Christians and with the Christian god. Clerics could not bear arms. In the early sixth century. indulgence featured in monastic feasting. ca. later the thin unleavened wafer known as the host. Monks and nuns earned a reputation as food experts. Benedict prescribed an acceptable diet for a monk as bread. Through symbolism. Christians fasted for short periods while charitably giving alms and donating food. and Greek and Gallo-Roman conviviality. In later centuries the stock figure of the gluttonous monk became a target for satirists. Having productive kitchen gardens and well-stocked larders. Despite the Christian principle of disdaining commerce. the rite of communion recast sacrifice on a supernatural level. fasting was required for the period before Easter (Lent). As the number of monasteries and nunneries increased and bishops consolidated power. and foreign nuts. cinnamon. institutional pronouncements set ideals for GalloChristian food practice. was ingested along with a sip of wine. buying products imported through the Mediterranean ports. and to become him. . Outside of church ceremony. but the ability to host a feast also signaled power. Eucharistic counterpart.Historical Overview 9 a piece of bread. Starting in the fourth century. the Council of Agde that met in 506 forbade Christians from sharing a meal with “Jews and heretics. early Christian tolerance. In defiance of Jewish principles of fellowship. but they gave feasts to build up their reputations. Bread and wine evoked the body and blood of Christ. meals were to be taken twice daily in summer and once in winter. 540). the bread and wine ostensibly turned into the body and blood of Christ. Other days were added in rhythm with the natural seasons and older pagan holidays. The virtuous fasted on Fridays.” on pain of excommunication. eating bread at daily meals recalled its blessed. saintly figures miraculously abstained from food for long periods. In extreme cases. avoiding actual bloodshed while fostering a penchant for the mystical. when the power of the Catholic Church in France began to decline.

and rank would underpin the feudal castes of the next centuries. the most influential of whom was Charlemagne (r. In the Carolingian era. as in ancient times and up through the Revolution of 1789. like the Saxons and other peoples conquered in war. Spices were available. The Frankish kingships were military. and millet were the most common. The Christian was burdened with original sin. The acquisition of land cemented power for titled individuals such as counts and dukes. and quite ill managed. Beer and wine were . How can the duties of the host to be generous reconcile with the obligation of the penitent to live sparingly? CAROLINGIAN RENEWAL After the Roman period. Frankish Paris. They also reveal contradictions inherent to the Gallo-Christian cult of late antiquity. Exotic products show the reach of the trade networks. and St. Cormery. and the diet included imports such as lemons and dates. made annual gifts to the emperor. St. Gall (in present-day Switzerland) indicate a richly provisioned establishment. Pulses complemented the grain. Charlemagne made donations to the Church. most people relied on grains for food. giving rise to the new dynasty of Carolingians. a powerful palace mayor (administrator) to the king overthrew his employer. Near the Rhine valley. tied to the seasons and the harvest cycle. For the Christian. Carolingian documents describing the abbey at St. Maixent. Greeks and Romans explained the need for moderation at table through principles of health. for instance. and was crowned Emperor on Christmas day in the year 800 by Pope Leo III in Rome. and encouraged international trade. wealth. no system of direct taxation was used. Barley. Charlemagne waged war to enlarge his dominions across Europe. who then exacted tributes from the peasants working their terrain. the Merovingian dynasty of Frankish tribal leaders converted to Christianity and shifted the capital from Romanized Lyon to northern. Tournus.10 Food Culture in France Feasting and fasting traditions—extreme eating—reflect the natural alternation of cycles of plenty and shortage. personal. linked merchants to monasteries and the king. Benoît de Cessieu brought in revenue. Sophisticated systems of exchange also flourished in the marketplace. Nobles. The Frankish liturgy included the ceremonial use of chrism (balsam or balm mixed with oil). The problem was how to define moderation according to Christian principles. Langres. Unlike in the Roman era. the flesh was impure. set himself up as protector of the Church and of the faithful. At length. oats and rye became important. Monastic fairs at Paris. The social hierarchy based on landholding. Flavigny. 768–814). wheat.

lettuce. born near Langres. A warrior class of chevaliers or knights who were supposed to aid the lords and monarch fought their way into that class to obtain their own hereditary titles and landowning rights. The plants and foods listed in the capitularies were familiar from antiquity.4 He exhorted cooks. millers. beets. 987–1322) expanded their Parisian stronghold to include the counties of Flanders and Boulogne. Hoarding and speculation on grain and wine aggravated shortages. artichokes. Dynastic competitions were keen in the Middle Ages. radishes. but this measure did not hold market rates steady. chickpeas. spontaneous generation was said to have produced loaves. rocket. cervoise (ale). fish. Frankish tastes color provisionary miracles of the Merovingian and Carolingian eras. It is thanks to Carolingian monastic scribes that many ancient texts are known today. or holy oil. West Francia covered much of the territory of contemporary France. Encouraging agriculture and food production was part of the effort to renew the achievements of imperial Rome within the contemporary Christian empire. Normans or Norsemen (“northern” or Scandinavian . His Capitulare de villis vel curtis imperii. Carolingian territories were divided into three parts.Historical Overview 11 the beverages of choice. turnips. butchers.5 The narrative left by his biographer Einhard shows the effort to negotiate customs from Frankish warrior feasts (involving meat from hunted game and plenty of alcohol) with both classical moderation and Christian asceticism. mustard. The Capetian kings (r. In earlier centuries. peasants would work land and trades in exchange for protection given by the landowner. such as cucumbers. Charlemagne himself was said to have been a careful eater and a moderate drinker. fava beans. so children also drank diluted alcohols. or decrees regarding the imperial domains. fourth century). After the Serment de Strasbourg or Strasbourg Oath of 842. cabbages. Famine was common. hydromel (fermented honey drink). Saint Sadalberga (ca. ca. In the feudal era. Water was not dependably safe. and mustard to work carefully in a clean environment. According to the vita or life written in the ninth century. including the oldest surviving copies of Apicius’s cookbook De re coquinaria (On Cookery. Difficult conditions fostered tales about the supernatural provision of food and drink. taken during the ninth century. bakers. and makers of garum. Charlemagne fixed prices for bread. cheese. sought to remedy shortages by improving agriculture.3 Attempting to counter hunger. 605–670). miraculously filled a vat with beer just in time for the visit of the abbot who assisted her to found a monastery. In the ninth and tenth centuries. and various herbs. The capitularies listed plants that Charlemagne wanted to be cultivated throughout the empire. communion wine.

” The Old French epic Chanson de Roland (Song of Roland) looks back in time to recount a battle against Moors in Spain that was fought during the era of Charlemagne. however. priests. New wheeled plows were more versatile and efficient. During the Middle Ages. They settled in the northwest (today’s Normandy). GRAIN AND SWORDS The agricultural and population expansion that lasted about 300 years until the mid-thirteenth century owed much to the absence of the military class. With the knights conveniently gone on crusade.12 Food Culture in France warriors and sailors) descended in boats to plunder and scout for land. From the start to the end of the Capetian dynasty. wine became the symbol of Christian France. peasants reclaimed land through cutting forests and draining marshes. refers to the homeland as la douce France (sweet France).” Armed knights were apt to skirmish over small slights. with winter and spring plantings next to a fallow field that was sometimes grazed (and thus manured). Christian warriors left in droves to crusade against the Muslim “infidel. Today. Grain farming increased to newly opened fields in the north and east. the link between Christian succor and wine is recalled by events such as the wine auction held every November at the Hôtel-Dieu or historic hospice in the town of Beaune in Burgundy. improved use of the soil. After Pope Urban II’s call in 1095 from Clermont-Ferrand to take Jerusalem from the Turks. From its association with pagan Rome and the god Bacchus. During the era of the crusades. Writing about the Capetians. authorized by Pope Eugenius IV in 1441 and staffed by nuns. In the south. and the more peaceable nobles. Improved food production supported a larger population. . monks grew grapes and produced wine for medicinal use and to offer to travelers and pilgrims whom the laws of hospitality obliged them to host. the counts of Provence defended their territory. but it was originally conceived to benefit the charity hospital. Three-crop rotations. 1100). then merged with Aquitaine and Britain to form the powerful Anglo-Norman or Angevin empire. people imagined “France” as a place and an idea. The contemporary language of the written version (ca. The auction is now commercial. invaded Britain. Heavy workhorses bred from Carolingian cavalry animals—the knights’ battle chargers— pulled plows faster than the old-fashioned teams of oxen. posing a constant threat to peasants. Denis forsook the customary phrase “king of the Franks” for the new description “king of France. the abbot Suger of St. so productive at home. the population tripled to about 20 million.

White wheat bread was rare. Around 1550. Peas. and Nantes. Cheese was a staple in the Auvergne. made their way across the country from ships that docked at the western ports of Dieppe. In Brittany blé noir or sarrasin (buckwheat) mixed with water or milk was used to make gruel. Voluntary distribution of food was often associated with collective settings such as hospices and hospitals. Wine was grown as far north as the Paris basin—there were vineyards at Montmartre and Belleville. sometimes grinding the nuts into a flour. the society was now in bad shape. high prices. dark bread was made of wheat supplemented with other grains. the climate changed. Eating meat. people ate chestnuts. cheap staple that could be eaten during the lean days of Lent. 1150 to 1450). the basic foodstuffs were interminable bowls of gruel and bread made from wheat or maslin (wheat mixed with rye and barley). and chickpeas supplemented the grains and gave more protein. which killed 8 million people. Staples varied by region and according to local taste. the distillation of wine was the province of apothecaries.Historical Overview 13 There was literally little spice in the gustatory life of the peasant. harsh winters regularly led to inadequate grain harvests. Until 1537. Peasants drank hard apple cider in the northwest. As a result of the ravages of the Hundred Years War (1337–1453) fought against England and the Black Death or bubonic plague (1348–1349). Le Havre. Inexpensive piquette (wine made from the second pressing of the fruit) was available in much of the country. Meat-eating declined among the peasants. when meat was forbidden. During the little ice age that lasted through the next three centuries. For survivors of the plague and wars. In the South and on Corsica. as well as fresh fish. who used the resulting brandy as a medicine. Stockfisch or salted dried cod. and hunger. elderly. During the Angevin period (ca. the market for brandies and fortified wines quickly expanded. Once Franç ois I granted the privilege of manufacture to vinegar makers. The feudal era had been relatively prosperous. although hunting game in forests remained restricted to the aristocracy. although primarily to feed horses. especially pork. Nutritious oats were widely grown. the best wines from Gascony and Bordeaux were exported to British cellars. poaching was punishable by execution. Honfleur. The ill. cervoise or beer in the northeast. Cod fishing in North Atlantic waters provided a new. Charitable institutions and paying establishments alike existed to provide venues for meals. For most. was not uncommon among peasants. diet and living conditions did improve until about the mid-sixteenth century. and destitute received assistance in the form of meals of soup . In rural areas and among the poor everywhere. beans. generally found in wealthy homes. food shortages.

sauciers attended to the garnishes. hostelries) maintained by municipal authorities sheltered travelers. monasteries. Nobles feasted in the great halls of their castles. Myriad attendants performed separate offices. or a débit de vin (“wine dispensary:” sixteenth century and later). and close to marketplaces that drew a crowd. hosting them for up to three days. and generous lords allocated food and wine to pilgrims. Each course of a meal had several dishes. elites rented out a hôtel and the services of a cook and his helpers. prisoners of war. at busy intersections in town. For important occasions such as weddings. and the table was set with a nef or ship-shaped container to hold the salt. The spectacular service prevented diners from having to bring knives and slice their own portions from the roast. and much later the pensions (boarding houses) typical in the nineteenth century served meals usually at fixed hours and almost invariably at a communal table. Le Viandier (The Provisioner) attributed to Guillaume de Tirel (1315–1395). Tirel was known as Taillevent. Usually the taverns and other watering holes made some sort of food available. which might rest on metal underplates. inns. Paying hôtels or hôtelleries (hostels. pantners looked after the bread. The nobility were conspicuous consumers. judges. One of the earliest recipe manuscripts. Food was placed on sliced bread trenchers. Convents. estaminet (northern France and the Burgundian territory that is today Belgium). as in earlier times. Recipes and indications for service followed the international style of the late medieval and early Renaissance courts throughout western Europe. drew on the author’s experience as maistre queux du roy de France or master cook to the king of France. journeymen.14 Food Culture in France and bread. The duties of lords to distribute food and wine stemmed from Christian notions of hospitality and also the old feudal obligations to vassals or dependents. His nickname refers to wind cutting through sails and presumably evokes his swiftness and efficacy in . Inns and the tavernes that served wine set up strategically near city gates. for a catered meal. where the local regulars often gave travelers and newcomers a hard time. The hostels. Honored guests sat above the salt close to the head of the table. and itinerant merchants. Carvers neatly dismembered whole roasted animals carried in on immense platters. minimally bread and cheese or a piece of cold meat pie. interested in ostentation as well as the distribution of largesse. MANUSCRIPT TO COOKBOOK The earliest French-language works on cooking reflect practice in distinguished settings. According to region and century. one also drank wine or beer at a cabaret (Picardy).

The author describes how to dress game taken on the hunt and indicates when the various garden vegetables should be planted seasonally. Johann Gutenberg pioneered use of the printing press with movable type in Mainz. evokes a different. Notably. and printing came to France shortly thereafter (1470). Le Mesnagier de Paris (The Parisian Household Guide. is still current for many manuals. Late medieval recipes hold surprises for the modern French palate. and even tells his wife where she should go shopping for ingredients and utensils in Paris. ginger. if also wealthy. long pepper. fancy entremets (meat or grain dishes served between the first and second courses). Many of his recipes borrow directly from Taillevent’s Viandier. This logic. meatless stews and soups (for fast days). grains of paradise (Malagueta pepper). The author was a well-heeled bourgeois who wrote the instructional booklet for his teenage bride. as cane sugar. who had to learn to run the ménage (household). ca. fish (including whale. His cookbook has a coherent organization that reflects the relationship of the recipes to the part they play in a grand meal. roasts and roast fowl. the use of the dish for further cooking or service. not for service in a château (castle). the author wrote for his own ménage. in one version of the manuscript) and shellfish. The popular Viandier enjoyed numerous print editions through the seventeenth century. Chapters on the obligations of a virtuous wife. and the cooking method: boiled meats. Many recipes demand a heavy-handed application of spices. and the irreplaceable black pepper. Recipes are organized according to the type of main ingredient. imported from the Middle East and Sicily. Le Mesnagier is thoroughly didactic. Other intriguing features of medieval recipes include elaborate substitutions and gastronomic trickery. Expensive foreign spices were status symbols. moral theology. and how much money she should spend for each item. 1393). although there is some adjustment in the direction of modesty. Another early manuscript. milieu. A typical list includes cloves. was used as a spice.Historical Overview 15 the kitchen.”6 . He gives menus for feast and fast days. food for the sick. In 1450. Taillevent’s résumé was superb: he cooked for the Valois king Philip VI and for Charles V and served as head of provisions for Charles VI. meat broths and stews. and economics accompany those on meals. in which the cookbook mirrors the meal in its organization and progress through time. The spice mixtures reflect the Roman heritage. and cold and hot sauces. To serve or consume them was to demonstrate wealth and prestige. After all. including supervising the kitchen. as in the recipe for “imitating a bear [or stag] steak with a piece of beef. cinnamon. They also indicate the circumstances of the eaters. sweet flavors combined with salty tastes in the same dish.

of geese. The gaufrier specialized in waffles. defined by corporate rules and royal statutes revised periodically until the attempt was made to suppress the trade guilds in 1776. To stretch profits. raising the price accordingly. the oubloyer’s portable oven was sometimes called a fournaise à pardon (“absolution furnace”). In principle. vinegared herring. Meat sellers. for instance. and of tripe and offal. Roasted meats came from a rôtisseur. During the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries cities grew rapidly. Stationed at the entry to churches on feast days. The tantalizing list of food specialists for Paris in Étienne Boileau’s Livre des métiers (Book of Trades) of 1268 mentions sellers of bread. Types of street food multiplied over the centuries as sellers increased in number. including in the street. pigeons.16 Food Culture in France MEDIEVAL AND RENAISSANCE STREET FOOD Taking food and meals outside of the home had a strong association to the urban centers. butchers. In urban settings. and fowl. People purchased these street foods at the exterior counter of a boutique. shoemakers. The collectivities regulated entry into each trade and defended practitioners’ interests. The oublie (a waffle decorated with religious symbols) recalled the oblation (sacrifice. An unscrupulous wine merchant might push ignoble plonk as a good vintage from one of the better wine towns. each vendor had to stick to his specialty. had to responsibly discard or burn any meat older than two or three days and meat that smelled off. of leftovers from the grand houses. but one had to purchase one’s repast piecemeal. and bowls of gruel were available. But the customer had to be on the alert. and bureaucracy displaced tribal and familial relationships. and self-sufficiency declined. Concerned municipal authorities did pass ordinances to regulate sales. . and town criers joined with colleagues to form guilds (communautés de métier. cooked and cured pork from a chaircuitier saulcissier. industry and trade prospered. giving a taste of independence to master workers if not their apprentices. smiths. Later in the same century. where walking down the street revealed a wealth of edibles. by extension the symbolic offering of bread and wine in the Catholic liturgy). a similar unleavened egg and butter cake called a fouace was the province of the fouacier. onions à longue haleine (having a lasting effect on the breath). milk. later called corporations). from an ambulatory vendor with his cart. of meat or fish pasties and cheese and egg pies. the poet Guillaume de Villeneuve’s Crieries de Paris (Parisian Vendors’ Calls) adds that pears. Beginning in the twelfth century. or from a merchant stationed at an échoppe (booth or shop). specialists such as bakers. they were definitively dissolved in 1791. tavern keepers were known to sophistiquer (adulterate) their wine. Risks accompanied eating out.

Historical Overview 17 NEW WORLD FOODS Cornerstones of modern cooking such as potatoes and tomatoes are relatively recent additions to the French pantry. Commissioned by the Spanish monarchs. they returned with marvelous foods: tomatoes. Bonnefons called the Jerusalem artichoke a pomme de terre (“earth apple”. and the . and new varieties of beans. papaya. nor Hernando Cortès. including the Jerusalem artichoke and wild rice. chocolate. blueberries. Neither Columbus. and Spain wanted its own supply of this expensive commodity. Topinamboux is the French name of a native Brazilian tribe (the Tupi). Champlain returned with the topinambour or Jerusalem artichoke (or sunchoke). as well as the famous corsaires or pirates who raided Spanish and Portuguese ships. guava. In 1537. turkey (in French dinde abbreviates coq d’Inde or “Indian chicken”). Muscovy duck. this would become the word for potato). As with many new foods. The voyagers to North America also found Virginia strawberries (larger than the tiny. Perhaps the name topinambour stuck for the Jerusalem artichoke because it so intriguingly evokes exotic origins. The knobby tuber has a firm texture and a sweet taste reminiscent of artichokes. potatoes arrived in Europe in the 1570s. Christopher Columbus first set out in 1492 to find a fast water route to “the Indies” (that is. 1651) and Les Delices de la campagne (The Delights of the Countryside. seedy Old World fraises des bois or wild woodland strawberries). vanilla. corn (maize). and pumpkin returned with European voyagers. the Florentine Amerigo Vespucci. private funds sponsored the earliest trading and colonizing voyages. and Henri IV began sending Jesuit missionaries to North America shortly thereafter. who reached Mexico in 1519. there was initially some confusion as to how to name it. Rather. Spanish soldiers found “floury roots” in a mountain village in Peru7. made it to the Far East. which is appreciated today. Bumping instead into the Americas. and strawberries. Asia) to make it cheaper to import pepper and other spices. Another writer referred to it as a poire de terre (“earth pear”). From Canada. Belated French voyages to the New World brought further culinary discoveries. who also encountered pineapple. By this time. bell peppers. 1654) laid out instructions for gardening and then cooking from one’s own harvest. cranberries. These New World foods came to France as a result of European voyages made beginning in the late fifteenth century. Nicolas de Bonnefons was the valet to Louis XIV whose books Le Jardinier françois (The French Gardener. Samuel de Champlain finally founded a successful colony at Québec in 1608. Portugal had cornered the market on black pepper. The French state came late to ambitious maritime exploration.


Food Culture in France

aquatic grass known as wild rice, which the Ojibwa taught the French to harvest from canoes and to cure. Many of the New World foods were incorporated only gradually into the diet. Hot chili peppers in the Capsicum family never took hold at all; spicy flavors are still disliked today. Other foods came through Spain and went to Italy before ending up in France, where cultural obstacles prevented their quick adoption. Today, it is difficult to imagine cooking without tomatoes; however, it took two centuries before the tomato was incorporated into the diet. A member of the deadly nightshade family, it was thought poisonous. The potato, from the same family of Solonacae, was also viewed with suspicion. Of course, the voyagers attested to its edibility. A few others quickly recognized that the potato would be useful against grain shortages, and fields were planted in Alsace and Lorraine, in the Auvergne, and in the Lyon area. Because of the importance of bread and the periodic famines resulting from lack of grain, potato fanciers experimented with using potato flour or mashed potatoes to replace wheat in leavened loaves; however, the potato had a bad reputation. It was accused of causing leprosy and was thought of as food fit only for the poor. By the eighteenth century, the old excuse was taken up that spuds were flatulent. Finally, potatoes were distributed to members of an agricultural society, and the naturalist Auguste Parmentier (1737–1813), with the support of Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI, promoted them tirelessly. Parmentier’s great coup was to plant potatoes in a field belonging to Louis XVI that was heavily guarded during the day. When the guards retired for the evening, temptation lured the local population in to poach whatever was so very valuable in the king’s fields. By the nineteenth century, people had begun to rely on potatoes as a staple. Turkey was accepted relatively quickly. By the eighteenth century, it often replaced goose as a festive roast. Today, turkey is popular for the winter holidays, and, as a pale-fleshed meat, it often replaces veal. In the seventeenth century, southern French peasants began to grow corn to eat as millasse (porridge like Italian polenta) or as corncakes or pancakes, selling the more profitable wheat that they grew. Elsewhere corn was primarily grown as animal fodder and to enrich soil depleted from other crops. It is hardly eaten today; most people still think of corn as food for animals.

Late seventeenth-century cookbooks emphasized tastes and codified procedures that persist today. In the 1660s, the satirist Nicolas Boileau poked fun at vulgar types who scour far-off Goa for pepper and ginger and whose idea of refinement consists of too much pepper mixed up in the sauce.8

Historical Overview


Spices, which had become relatively inexpensive, were out of style in aristocratic contexts. Instead of disguising flavors of the principal ingredients with baroque flourishes, some clarity and sense of proportion were now sought. Even humble vegetables were required to taste a bit more of themselves. Cooks working for elite diners turned to the kitchen garden for the flavoring palette. Cookbooks from this period, such as François Pierre de La Varenne’s Le Cuisinier françois (The French Cook, 1651), Pierre de Lune’s Le Cuisinier (The Cook, 1656), and L.S.R.’s Art de bien traiter (Art of Entertaining Well, 1674), show that cooks did use spices such as cloves. They certainly retained salt and pepper, although, often enough, only un peu (a little bit) in the case of pepper. A remarkable feature of these cookbooks is the use of plants to provide seasoning. Fresh herbs, onions, and garlic appear repeatedly in the recipes. Pierre de Lune explained how to use an herbal paquet (packet) that could be dropped into cooking liquids to give them flavor. The little bundle included thyme, chervil, and parsley and was tied up with a piece of string; the optional strip of lard (fat bacon) was taken out for jours maigres (lean days). Pierre de Lune’s paquet is the ancestor of the modern bouquet garni. Increasingly, salty flavors were separated from sweet, and sweets relegated to the end of the meal. A harmonious balance of flavors and the enhancement, rather than disguise, of the main ingredients were desired.

Fresh parsley, scallions, shallots, and garlic are essential ingredients and flavorings in French cuisine. Courtesy of Hervé Depoil.


Food Culture in France

The late seventeenth-century cookbooks reflect the preference for order. The Classical-era manuals allude to the sequences of procedures that are necessary for complex cooking. The cook must keep on hand an all-purpose meat stock pour la nourriture (“for the alimentation”) of other dishes such as sauces and to moisten meats. He must make roux (flour cooked in butter) as a thickener, and he must use butter and fewer breadcrumbs as liaisons or binders. To complete the time-consuming preparations—mashing, grating, peeling, chopping, slicing, scaling, soaking, blanching, boiling, reducing, barding, mixing, kneading, whipping, stirring, sieving, clarifying—on the large scale required to cook grand meals, an army of kitchen help must assist the head chef. These preparations had to be carried out before a dish could be finished. Today, chefs spend hours in the kitchen completing their mise en place (“putting into place” or preparation, i.e., chopping parsley, peeling vegetables, and so on) before actually beginning to cook. The Classical cookbooks laid the foundation for the lush cooking that went on in wealthy houses during the eighteenth century. The recipes and procedures also underpin haute cuisine, the refined, complex style of cooking that chefs practiced in restaurants and hotels in the nineteenth century. The contemporary descendent of aristocratic banquet cuisine is today’s cuisine gastronomique, such as in the Michelin-starred restaurants. Despite the advances toward modern taste in Classical cooking, aristocratic banquet meals retained the ostentatious service à la française (French-style service) typical of the Renaissance. Each course consisted of a profusion of different dishes laid out in a perfectly symmetrical geometry on the table. One was obliged to take from whatever serving plate was near at hand. The ceremonial court meal served à la française reached its apogee in the dining rooms of Louis XIV (r. 1661–1715). The Sun King’s reign had begun with an unfortunate slight delivered by means of dinner. With money skimmed off from the state’s tax income, Nicolas Fouquet, the superintendent of finances, built himself an estate and gardens at Vaux-le-Vicomte, then began to entertain in a style that fit his grand circumstances. In the summer of 1661, he staged two full days of festivities, including a parade of costumed allegorical figures who served supper and a massive edible monument of sugar confectionary, shiny preserved fruits, and ices, to honor Louis XIV. The mastermind behind the ill-fated but gorgeous banquet at Vaux was the maître d’hôtel or executive chef Franç ois Vatel. The king grew disgusted at Fouquet’s opulence, arranged for his minister’s arrest, and was never again outdone in the area of magnificent entertaining.

Historical Overview


Under the reign of Louis XIV, France subdued Spanish and Austrian rivals in Europe and set the standard for cultural brilliance across the Continent. Louis XIV ordered gardens and a brilliant hall of mirrors to be built at his château at Versailles. There he surrounded himself with his aristocratic entourage. The scheme was astute. The king made sure that people danced attendance upon him even when he arose from bed in the morning. For a noble, to risk an absence from a feast or the king’s intimate but ceremonial morning lever was to incur his displeasure and risk banishment to the yawning provinces. By holding political rivals in pleasing captivity at Versailles, Louis XIV prevented interference with his own monopoly on power. Protocol for serving and eating, like nearly every other aspect of court life, was designed to reflect and increase the greatness of the monarch. The king was the only man allowed to eat bareheaded. His food was marched in from the far-away kitchens by a long procession of guards, servants, and tasters. Although the use of the fork was firmly established by now among members of the aristocratic classes, Louis XIV was the only person at the table who did not bother with one, preferring to eat with his hands. Unsuccessful attempts had been made to recruit Vatel into service at Versailles; however, Vatel did stage one more dinner for the king. In 1669, now working for the Prince de Condé—long a rival to the king and suspected of a conspiracy against him—at the Château de Chantilly, Vatel staged an entertainment and weekend of feasting designed to restore his master to the good graces of the king. So great was the pressure of the occasion that the ingenious Vatel panicked when the delivery of fish failed to arrive, and he committed suicide. The epistolary chronicler Madame de Sévigné was not even there, but she habitually gathered all the gossip, and her account of Vatel’s death is practically the only credible information that survives. Madame de Sévigné wrote to her daughter that the fish wagons finally arrived, and the meal was a great success, at least for the Prince. Clearly, food and table manners were weighty matters during the Classical era. The table was a stage on which dramas of power were enacted every day. This is quite clear in the sly comedies of the playwright Molière, responsible for many of the evening entertainments at Versailles, just as he had been for the play presented by Fouquet at Vaux in 1661. In Tartuffe, ou l’Imposteur (Tartuffe, or The Imposter, 1669), for instance, the dynamics of the meal reveal the moral and psychological conflicts. A wealthy, gullible bourgeois has taken a devout individual into his household, but the soulful friend turns out to be a destructive parasite and first-rate hypocrite. Tartuffe literally eats his host out of house and home, attempts to

to those with the highest social standing. The lesser pieces were doled out to the less distinguished guests. chocolate. AND SUGAR During the seventeenth century. tea. CHOCOLATE. Regional cookbooks appeared in the nineteenth century and encyclopedic yet accessible references both to grand cooking and to home cooking in the twentieth. The anthology called L’École parfaite des officiers de bouche (The Finishing School for Cooks. coffee. 1746) even acknowledged. Visible conformity to rank and acceptable social mores. 1662) borrowed not only recipes from cookbooks but also information from the tradition of treatises dating to the Renaissance on topics such as carving and serving. Mexican chocolate (drunk as a beverage) was adopted at the Spanish court and then in the Spanish Netherlands before coming to . The anonymous compiler of the École parfaite included diagrams that show the steps for cutting up roast meats and whole cooked fish and fowl in order to serve them. 1691) responded to the incipient social changes that brought cookbooks aimed for use in nonaristocratic households. and nearly swindles him of everything he owns. Cookbooks and other documents pertaining to meals reveal the strong sense of social hierarchy that prevailed at the height of the ancien régime. The introduction and the written instructions that accompany the pictures remind the carver that he should serve the best morsels. the mistress of the house grows sick and faint and cannot eat. Published at the very end of the seventeenth century. appropriately sauced and garnished. that the person cooking in any but the very wealthiest households was usually a woman. Menon’s anonymously published Cuisinière bourgeoise (The [Female] Bourgeois Cook. COFFEE. The shared meal turns into a perverse. TEA. During the eighteenth century. was the order of the day. a century later. the title of Massialot’s Cuisinier roïal et bourgeois (Royal and Bourgeois Cook. they would be commonplace. Today. Menon’s cookbook was a best-seller and the only ancien régime cookbook to be reissued immediately after the Revolution of 1789. As gluttonous Tartuffe grows fat on bread and wine that are not his own. by its title. the many illustrated cookbooks that are designed to appeal to the broad swathe of the middle classes combine the visual appeal of the art or photography book and the personal tone of the memoir with the practical methods in the recipes themselves. such as Tartuffe’s show of devout Catholicism (shared with Louis XIV). vampiric anti-communion. and sugar became fashionable among elites.22 Food Culture in France seduce his virtuous wife. showing the social order gone wrong.

and by the twentieth century the hot drinks. Separately. In this era the sugar industry depended on the slave trade for labor. sculptures made of spun sugar and marzipan (ground almonds mixed with sugar). and crusaders supervised sugar plantations in Jerusalem. France became a major producer of sugar. The banker. especially coffee. Europeans added cane sugar to sweeten them. When Napoleon boycotted trade with Britain in the early nineteenth century. sent quantities of sugar to Europe.Historical Overview 23 France. and by boat from Venice to the trading center of Marseille. wine. During the Middle Ages. decorated royal tables as symbols of wealth and power. cane cultivation spread with Arabian settlements to areas of the Mediterranean and North Africa. In eighteenth-century France. Throughout the nineteenth century. had entirely replaced beer. in view of the competition from other colonial nations. an Ottoman ambassador on diplomatic mission from Constantinople also introduced coffee to the court of Louis XIV at Versailles. for which Napoleon named him chevalier de la Légion d’honneur. Perception of coffee’s effects varied. France’s colonial sugar could not reach the country. in 1669. intellectually stimulating drink. Sugar was so expensive that only small quantities returned to Europe. France soon . where the aristocracy considered the drink an aphrodisiac. sugar was rare to unknown in peasant households. Portuguese and Spanish colonial plantations staffed by slaves in the Atlantic. and amateur botanist Benjamin Delessert developed a dependable refining process. The taste for sugared coffee and the other beverages was initially restricted to aristocratic and bourgeois circles. and from there it spread to other Caribbean islands and the South American mainland. but generally it was seen as a sobering. As early as the late sixteenth century. Britain blocked French ships from landing in the western ports. Coffee made its way from Ethiopia and Yemen. the botanist Olivier de Serres had remarked on the high sugar content of beets. to drink coffee imported from the Antilles and to eat sweets made with Martinique or Guadeloupe sugar was to support the economy. through the Arab world to Turkey. The Dutch East India Company brought Chinese tea to Europe. From the thirteenth century. then British and French ones in the Caribbean. and soups as morning meals. Columbus brought cane to Santo Domingo. In antiquity cane sugar had been a curiosity known to come from India. industrialist. but the supply to France increased substantially after Henri IV chartered the French East India Company in 1604. As all three beverages were thought to be overly strong and bitter. Napoleon now called for the cultivation of sugar beets in northern France and the Belgian provinces. In the nineteenth century. then via the Mediterranean port cities to southern Europe.

and instead served filtered coffee. known as Franç ois Procope. They notably provided an ambiance quite different from the boozy miasma of the tavern. and daily or nightly haven for writers scribbling away under the gaze of the garçon de café (café waiter). he has married his way into a family of fermiers généraux (tax farmers). coffee-drinking acquired its lasting association with conversation and the free exchange of information. Procope eschewed the eastern custom of leaving the grounds in the cup. sugar manufacturers began to advertise heavily. savory staples of meat and bread. however. No longer a medical wonder. and candied fruits. yet retained hereditary privileges. Since then. Many cafés served a selection of foods as well as coffee. By its end. and this attitude changed. Four-fifths of the population still lived in villages and rural areas. the average person consumes nearly 33.7 pounds) of sugar yearly. Over the stimulating small bowls or cups of coffee. In this era new customs blurred old divisions among the social orders. grew in the urban centers. sugar was viewed as unhealthy9. along with ices. At the novel’s start. the protagonist is fed by the cook in the back kitchen of the house where he is a servant. France’s first successful café had been opened in the 1670s by the young Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli. This works out to about one teaspoonful each day. Nobles engaged in trades such as mining to exploit their land. or wondrous decoration for luxurious tables. the café still operates in Paris. salon. but the sway of the merchant and bourgeois classes. and debate the latest play. cafés became common in Paris and modern-style restaurants developed. people from all walks of life sat down to read the newspaper. dining room. During the 1860s. At present.5 kilograms (74 pounds) of sugar each year.3 kilograms (about 11. working class prejudice mitigated against sugar. and he presides over his own richly appointed table. play chess. ENLIGHTENMENT CAFÉS In the eighteenth century. consumption averaged 5. The monarch sold administrative offices to raise money.24 Food Culture in France had a reliable local source of sugar. discuss politics. As late as the 1890s. The rags-to-riches story in Pierre Carlet de Marivaux’s novel Le Paysan parvenu (The Parvenu Peasant. Because cafés were open to all comers. including bankers. In contrast with the nourishing. many a café has served at once as office. the bourgeois fiscal administrators and money lenders whose opulent eating habits rivaled those of the previous century’s aristocrats. liqueurs. rare spice. Following Italian practice. allowing bourgeois citizens to purchase power along with noble titles. 1735) marked rungs on the social ladder through culinary and gastronomic distinctions. . sugar became the common sweetener and preservative that it is today.

butchering. Courtesy of Hervé Depoil. The word gourmandise or gluttony had referred since the fourteenth century to the Deadly Sin. des Arts. Diderot gave the word a new. the mathematician Jean Le Rond d’Alembert. Now gourmandise also meant the deepened enjoyment that comes with understanding. and he took pleasure into account. The topic is treated with interest in the great Encyclopédie. secular definition and introduced the notion of moderation. and strawberries. Diderot notoriously loved to eat and drink. and Trades. ou Dictionnaire raisonné des Sciences. et des Métiers (Encyclopedia. and jurisprudence. Cultivated into an . 1751–1765) that the philosophe Denis Diderot. history. and others wrote collaboratively at mid-century. The editors believed that analysis and reason should be applied in all domains. Arts. In his article on the topic for the Encyclopédie.Historical Overview 25 Little escapes the watchful eye of the café waiter. PHILOSOPHICAL FOOD The democratic attitude that flourished in the café guided the Enlightenment approach to food in other spheres. Accordingly. Materialist thought even rationalized pleasure by means of the table. bread-baking. or Reasoned Dictionary of the Sciences. Although of delicate digestion. they solicited articles not just on the expected topics of theology. but also on pastry-making.

[and] fruits. which portrayed an ideal family and household economy.” Given the choice. Mercier observed with chagrin that any prohibition unjustly strained the poor. contrary to the received idea that the sophisticated French eat well. Rousseau was actually a francophone Swiss. Writing during the 1780s. a staple for many who did not have the means to pay for meat. He complained that. breast-feed their new babies. about educating children. because so specialized an art is required to make dishes edible for them. rather than simply maintain. In his novel Émile (1762). he recommended pure. or The New Heloise. ou la Nouvelle Héloïse (Julie. The word restaurant . One should eat foods in season. simple food as the most wholesome and also as the best for character formation.”10 Foods should be prepared with as few alterations to their original state as possible. was a bestseller. His ideas for a natural diet reached a wide audience. saw both urbane gastronomic pleasure and urban food shortage as two sides of the same decadent coin. for instance. informed appreciation for the daily pleasures of cooking and eating is a defining aspect of the French approach to food. Parents sought guidance in Émile to raising their own children. he observed. Ever the contrarian. everyday existence. Bread riots that continued through the most of the century bore out this view.26 Food Culture in France intellectual as well as a sensual experience. the bodily necessity of eating could enhance. Rousseau advocated that mothers. apply heat to butter and dairy products. rather than hired wet-nurses. In defiance of contemporary norms for those with any disposable income. pastries. Social critics associated with the later Enlightenment couched their discussions in a more polemical way.” and they eschew meat. and Rousseau’s novel Julie. a few guilded traiteurs or cook-caterers expanded business by offering meals in a different kind of setting than the rough table d’hôte of the innkeeper.11 MODERN RESTAURANTS The modern restaurant experience took shape in Paris in the late eighteenth century. all observant Catholics were still supposed to avoid prohibited foods or foods of unclear status. which makes people “cruel and ferocious. such as eggs. On lean days. One should not. Beginning in the 1760s. the reformer and journalist Louis-Sébastien Mercier recorded in the Tableau de Paris (Picture of Paris) the misery that ecclesiastical fasting requirements inflicted on the poor. Today. children incline to vegetables along with “dairy products. whose real problem was getting enough to eat at all. 1761). they are in fact the only people “who do not know how to eat. the philosophe and novelist Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

QUALITY. AND ENJOYMENT The largely unsung hero of the modern working class and middle class table was the eclectic aristocrat turned food critic Alexandre Balthazar Laurent Grimod de la Reynière (1758–1837). opened in 1782 by Antoine Beauvilliers. The light.12 The famous early establishments were based in Paris. Grimod. Véfour. and rice puddings. His satirical response was to develop a mocking code gourmand or food . legal reforms enacted under Napoleon shaped a country changed by republican ideas although still breathing ancien régime air.Historical Overview 27 designated a “restorative” soup or bouillon made from meat or fowl that was reduced to a rich essence. In new maisons de santé (“health houses”) or salles du restaurateur (“restaurateur’s rooms”) the caterers aimed to appeal to clients by providing the health-giving decoctions on a flexible schedule. an entire French dining experience. which is still open today. The new Code Napoléon or Civil Law Code of 1804 scripted autonomy and equality (at least. conveniently. It was necessary to decipher the menu and sometimes to outsmart a sneaky maître d’hôtel who could run up the bill by bringing extras. although the first trip to a restaurant could be fraught with peril. the future Louis XVIII. Before long. who served southern specialties such as brandade de morue (creamed salt cod) and bouillabaisse (Provençal fish soup). exporting abroad for commercial purposes not just la cuisine française (French cooking) but. some private cooks who had been employed in great houses had to start over. the term restaurant meant the eating house itself. and Véry. individual tables. rather than bloodlines. who had trained as a lawyer. After the revolutionary decade (1790s). Although they frequented a public place. they served items such as boiled capons. the customer chose exactly what and when he or she wanted to eat. soft-boiled eggs. had a serious interest in food and deep skepticism regarding the motives of the powerful. be kept or quickly prepared for service at a moment’s notice. notably. They caught on quickly. After the Revolution and the chaos of the Terror in the early 1790s. It fostered meritocracy rather than entitlement based on inherited name or rank. for men) before the law. the Grande Taverne de Londres (Great London Tavern). COMFORT. The new establishments listed the available dishes and their prices on a carte or menu. “Quality” now came from work or performance. salubrious preparations could also. These included the Trois Frères Provençaux (Three Brothers from Provence). diners sat at private. fruit preserves. In addition to broths. Many opened restaurants. either within the country or elsewhere. who had cooked for the Count of Provence.

too. the same is true for the complex relationships that exist today among food producers. The service of a full meal in separate courses became standard in the most elegant and expensive contexts by the 1860s. This allowed the eater to fully appreciate each food at the peak of its perfection and to enjoy it hot. Grimod’s guides fueled the nascent gastronomic industry made up of restaurants. he invented (in 1804) a clever system for judging quality and “legitimating” all that was best to eat. for instance. Each preparation should come to the table completely prepared and perfectly done. eaters. and writers. Simplicity made the method adaptable for modest households. and consumers. Despite his own distinguished. through nearly the end of the preceding century). the food critic. in part for the advertising. and steamed dumplings. At the same time. To protest the former. but rather from establishments open to the public (or at least. Today. the German states. This meant that he persuaded caterers and restaurateurs to give him samples of their wares. the wealthier segments) and from the response of that public. critics. the . What is remarkable is that fashion in food no longer emanated from exclusive removes associated with the centralized power (the court. Good taste and knowledge now emerged from interactions among producers and consumers. During the national conversion to the metric system and uniform system of weights and measures. He was an early advocate of serving in the style then called à la russe (Russian style). He recommended that meals be simplified. Grimod preferred that each service or course of a meal consist of a single dish. Grimod had a strong sense of duty as a public advocate. or chefs and eaters. he soon tired of Napoleon’s all-conquering military sweep across Europe and worried over the hostilities with Britain. and in part for fear of reprisal from this fearsome new species of ally-adversary.13 During the Napoleonic Empire (1804–1815).28 Food Culture in France connoisseur’s canon of laws for the table. exceedingly wealthy origins. Food producers did so. boutiques. He disdained the old aristocratic preference for ostentation. Grimod vociferously criticized unscrupulous shopkeepers and traders who took advantage of the situation to overcharge customers or short-weight meats or produce. Grimod’s system had its coercive aspects. Like many others of his time. while resting assured that he had a similar portion to his neighbor. and writers and readers. The latter interfered with the flow of goods so necessary to support fine dining. he championed (from his desk chair and dining table—Parisian central command for gastronomic operations) specialties of. Instead of the old service à la française. Grimod had a modern taste for comfort and enjoyment. meat stews. such as the fine mineral waters. all belonged to a consumer culture that was expanding in many domains.

is fundamental to the understanding of nearly everything.” recommendations for fattening and slimming diets. in Brillat’s view. observations not only on feasting and fasting but also on thirst. and nearly everything makes its way into his book.Historical Overview 29 Enjoyment is the best praise for good cooking. a history of science culminating with “the science of gastronomy” triumphant. where he taught French and music and famously shot a wild turkey in the “virgin forests” of Connecticut before making his way back home. gossipy anecdotes. The chef Antonin or Marie-Antoine Carême (1783–1833). whether served at home or in a restaurant. ending up in New England. 1826). jokes for enlivening a dinner party—all have their place in the Physiologie. If Grimod mobilized a comprehensive revolution at the table. Notes on the physical faculties of taste and digestion. Brillat’s cheerful. Brillat was a magistrate who fled France during the Terror. Food appreciation. the more famous writer Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755–1826) spread the word with the deliciously amusing Physiologie du goût (Physiology of Taste. a discussion of the “Influence of Gourmandise on Marital Bliss. ceremonial yet simple structure is typical for any full meal. participated both in the ancien and in the nouveau . sociable banter demystified dining rituals formerly associated with grand tables and endeared the author to generations of readers. Courtesy of Christian Verdet/ regard public-unpact. like Grimod and Brillat.

sense of proportion. As a cook for fancy clients. preferring jobs that better integrated them into the professional community of cooks. and documents such as balance sheets and menus give a sense of why this was so. 1833). social. The employment of highly accomplished private cooks in many wealthy and upper middle class houses continued until well after the mid-twentieth century. He was a private chef in the old style who served some of the most prominent individuals in Europe. contemporary studies of eating out. he clearly had a professional interest in avoiding the truly modern simplicity advocated by Grimod. few people capable of cooking on a high level cared to work as private servants. All the same. and delicacy of flavor. including Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord (wily politician. The five-volume cookbook (the last two volumes were finished by his executors after his death) modernizes aristocratic grande cuisine for the grand bourgeois table. Mulhouse. By that time. He authored several volumes on pastry-making and cooking. industrialization favored urbanization. Carême was also a self-made man and phenomenal selfpromoter who achieved fame and professional success in a thoroughly modern fashion. and a steady stream of people left the country for the northern and eastern coal-mining cities and places such as Lille. The socialist politics of the 1980s finally made the situation somewhat embarrassing for at least some employers. the Bourbon monarchy restored in 1815) and Baron James de Rothschild. which had mechanized factories .30 Food Culture in France régimes—political. treatment by novelists. and he preferred a modified version of service à la française. The accounts of travelers and memoirists. and Rouen. the Napoleonic Empire. He was a great fan of the expensive truffle and other such luxuries. rakish bishop. and notable gastronome who served under several administrations: the republican Directory of the late 1790s. His cooking was famous for its variety. Carême had nothing good to say about the use of spices. but he felt strongly that magnificence and elaborate decoration had their place on the table. NINETEENTH-CENTURY RESTAURANTS Restaurant culture expanded rapidly during the nineteenth century. including the great oeuvre heavily entitled Art de la cuisine française au 19e siècle: Traité élémentaire et pratique suivi de dissertations culinaires et gastronomiques utiles au progrès de cet art (Art of French Cuisine in the Nineteenth Century: Basic and Practical Treatise Followed by Culinary and Gastronomic Dissertations Useful to the Progress of this Art. The nineteenth-century population was predominantly rural and agricultural. and dietary.

Historical Overview


beginning in the 1830s. Restaurants, at this juncture, like the taverns and cafés that preceded them, opened primarily in cities and were a mainstay of workers. Quality of the food, ambience, and price varied, as they do today. The multiplication of fancy restaurants during the First Empire had fostered a connoisseur culture peopled by the new food critics and gastronomes, as well as ostentatious consumption by high rollers of various stripes. This grande cuisine or haute cuisine culminated late in the century in the cooking and cookbooks of chef Auguste Escoffier (1846–1935) and in dining rooms within the new “palaces” or grand hotels. But an equally or perhaps even more remarkable phenomenon was the spread of decent but inexpensive restaurants that served a modest prix fixe (fixed price) menu aimed at a middle class clientele. Such menus listed prices for full meals in three or four courses, not for individual items, giving one a package deal. Workers favored inexpensive bouillon shops, where they chose from a limited range of à la carte (individually listed) items served in small portions; the series of beef and bouillon restaurants opened in the 1860s by the butcher Duval are an early example of a chain restaurant. Dairy restaurants were also popular among the working classes. Cheap gargotes catered to the impecunious, such as students and laborers. Guinguettes (outdoor cafés and dance-halls) opened seasonally outside city limits to avoid the municipal taxes. The café-concerts had music as well as coffee, alcohol, and food. Restaurants de nuit had dancing and usually a dubious reputation. Menus in these diverse restaurants had in common that they varied by season and offered three and sometimes four courses to compose a full meal. Two massive studies based on interviews of workers begun in the mid-nineteenth century, Pierre-Guillaume-Frédéric Le Play’s Ouvriers Européens (European Workers, 1855) and the collective work completed by his followers entitled the Ouvriers des Deux Mondes (Workers from Two Worlds, 1859–1930), show that motivations for frequenting restaurants were diverse. These ranged from periodic indulgence or overindulgence in food and wine, usually right after payday, to making oneself available for encounters that would drum up business and increase one’s income. Sometimes one simply purchased at a restaurant what was needed to supplement the essentials of a meal brought from home.14 In many cases, small, cramped city apartments without amenities for cooking made eating out a matter of necessity. New lighting technologies—stable-burning oil lamps (by the 1790s), gas lamps (1860s), and electricity (1880s)—strategically adopted by businesses increased the appeal of restaurants and lengthened opening hours.15 The legacy of the affordable public eating culture has


Food Culture in France

been quite influential. Today, motivations for eating out differ, but it is typical that throughout the country one can eat a meal of decent quality outside the home without breaking the bank.

In the late nineteenth century, outside of the cities with their mechanized factories and restaurant culture, the picture was quite different. Twothirds of the population lived in rural areas and villages. The lifestyle was agricultural, and farming was essentially preindustrial; it is ironic that in this era, Third Republic (1870–1940) politicians famously justified ambitious colonial expansion as a mission civilisatrice or mission to civilize and assist in the modernization of the occupied countries. At home, meals for most people still reflected the aim of self-sufficiency. With the exception of a few items such as salt, sugar, and coffee that had to be purchased, what was eaten came from the kitchen garden or the family farm. For farmers, still called paysans (peasants or country people), main meals were built around soups, which stretched ingredients as far as possible. Other staples were the garden vegetables that stored well: potatoes, carrots, cabbages, and beans. If animals were kept, butter and eggs could be sold. If a pig was killed, it was pickled or smoked, to last the whole 12-month cycle.16 Bread came from the village baker, or might still be baked at home. For those who lived and—for the moment, stayed—in the country, it was not so much the texture or material aspect of life but rather attitudes that underwent a certain revision. The early years of the Third Republic were characterized by a mix of nationalism and protectionism, on the one hand, and democratic ideals and liberal economic policies, on the other. The relationship among village bread baker, priest, and schoolmaster in the classic film La Femme du boulanger (The Baker’s Wife, 1939) poignantly depicts the difficult changing of the conceptual guard.17 The 1880s had brought free, compulsory primary school education for all children and the abolishment of religious education in public schools. The schoolmaster was charged to represent the Republic and universally to inculcate its values in his pupils. He supplanted the priest as an exemplary figure in villages. At the same time, at least in some rural areas, the routines of everyday life had hardly changed. In the film, when the village baker is deserted by his wayward wife, he becomes so distraught that he cannot make bread, and the village begins to worry about its stomach. Priest and schoolmaster, who conversed by peevish argument, now join forces to—of all things— ford a stream to reach the baker’s wife and coax her into returning home. The priest is hampered by the voluminous skirts of his cassock and suffers

Historical Overview


being carried on the shoulders of the teacher, who wears a modern (and masculine) suit. The waters part neither for the priest nor for the teacher. The teacher seems better equipped to meet the challenges of modern life, but the priest has a practiced bedside manner. Both are instrumental in reestablishing harmony and unity in their community. Communion in the village is now secular. It takes place at the baker’s and in each family’s dining room, as much as in the church, with the baker’s bread rather than the host distributed by the priest, and over the sociable glass of pastis (anise liqueur typical in the South) taken at the one village café rather than with the sip of consecrated wine. The film presents a nostalgic, idealized vision of village life, yet it is also accurate in some of the essentials. It is notable that rituals of communion—or community—persist so strongly. Participation in the collectivity of the village and shared cultural memory exert a strong force.

Industrialization brought the looming threat that the individual character of foods and food production, associated with quality and safety, could be obliterated by impersonal processes beyond the ken of consumers or of most producers. Adulteration of wine, either to doctor the flavor or to attempt to preserve it, had always been a problem, although some practices were considered acceptable. Fraud and the definition of words complicated the issue. For instance, “wine” made from raisins rather than fresh grapes technically was made from grapes. In the late nineteenth century, new chemical processes of synthesis forced people to imagine the weird possibility that a liquid sold as wine might not be made from grapes at all.18 Wine, bread, and meat were the essential sources of calories for urban workers. A further strain was caused by increased demand for wine in the cities at the same time that a devastating string of contagions decimated vines in the countryside. Destructive mildews, grape phylloxera (a kind of aphid) and other plagues caused wine production to plummet in the 15 years from 1875 to 1889 to a mere quarter of earlier levels. A hygenics movement concerned with the rise in alcoholism insisted that it was the modern adulterated wines that were causing problems. The ancestral beverage of the Gauls, on the other hand, was touted as nourishing and healthy. The regulations and attitudes that emerged were part of the reaction to the complex of issues presented by industrialization, production in difficult times, and rising demand. Laws passed in the late nineteenth century provided ever more precise descriptive definitions of wines and methods of wine production.


Food Culture in France

The Griffe Law of 1889 specified that “No one shall expedite, sell, or cause to be sold under the name of wine any product other than that deriving from the fermentation of fresh grapes.” This was le vin naturel or “natural wine.” Vin factice, which meant “artificial” or “elaborated” or “synthetic” wine, was not condemned, but it was now clearly to be distinguished from “natural” wine. The idea was that information would orient people to choose “natural” wine; fraud, it was assumed, would be eliminated as a consequence. When this did not happen, more interventionist statutes were passed to prevent certain types of adulteration. Notably, a new law passed in 1894 forbade mouillage or stretching wine with water (from mouiller, to wet or moisten) and vinage or increasing the alcohol content by adding must. Mouillage did not threaten the health of anybody who drank the treated wine, but the motivation for making it illegal was to promote transparency in business transactions. The longstanding law of 1905 against fraud enlarged on this idea, leading to debate among winemakers and finally to a new statute in 1907 that precisely detailed how words such as vin (wine) and méthode champenoise (Champagne-making method) should be used to correspond to specific processes of production. Later in the century, socialist and protectionist politics continued in the same direction of regulation, but for different reasons than the earlier laws inspired by liberal motives. Strict regulation of fraud and a politics of quality served the national economic interest; for the same reason, the concern for public health became another primary motive for food regulation.

Late nineteenth-century regionalism and the retour à la terre (“return to the soil” or peasantism) that flourished between the two World Wars contributed to defining the singular nature of foods through terroir. To be sure, neither regional specialty nor the term terroir was anything new. GalloRomans knew that their best oysters came from Brittany and Normandy and that there were no better hams than those from Bayonne. The royal tables of the absolutist era groaned under the weight of what was best from all over France. In the first decades of the nineteenth century, Grimod de la Reynière advocated gastronomic tourism, writing that one had to travel to Riom (Auvergne) to eat the best frogs legs, properly prepared by a knowledgeable local expert. In 1808, the lawyer and pharmacist Charles Louis Cadet de Gassicourt published a carte gastronomique (gastronomic map) keyed with small pictures to show the typical foods for each region and town. Awareness of regional particularity increased throughout the

as they are today. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This meaning of the term terroir informs the familiar French metonymy for wine.Historical Overview 35 century and was key both for rallying nationalist sentiment and stimulating the tourist industry. A person’s way of speaking. Whereas American wines are identified first by the name of the grape (merlot. cabernet. artisanal wines and foods. As a way of competing. In the nineteenth century. the term has been used in French since the thirteenth century to mean a plot of land suitable for cultivation. Terroir also includes historical and cultural practices of the people involved. and so on) and the year or vintage. and soil (its physical characteristics. components of terroir include the climate (temperature. Like regional specialty. Terroir is related to terre (earth. One speaks of a wine or a food. Today. Of Latin origin. manufacturing process. the elongated strawberries originally grown in scrublands. topography (slope. or the specific vineyard within a geographical region or even a town. at that point. sunlight. a Bordeaux. such as lamb from the prés-salés (salt marshes) and garriguettes. such as the cépage (type of vine or grape: gamay. chemistry. were not known as being unusually good or even very distinctive. Regulations for the AOC derive from classifications for Bordeaux wines instituted in the mid-nineteenth century. inexpensive Spanish and Portuguese wines were cutting out French wines from European markets. and taste that defines good-quality. if redolent of the countryside. rainfall) of the location where the grapes are grown. interaction with water). as having the goût du (taste of) terroir. area). A food or wine with the taste of terroir is understood in opposition to commercial or industrial fast food and supermarket products seen as sterile and impersonal. The specificity that informs terroir also underpins the Appellation d’origine contrôlée or AOC (Controlled Denomination of Origin). as trains and other forms of transport made it easier to travel and also to perceive regional variations. French wines are identified first by the place from which they come: a Côtes-du-Rhône. the term terroir is used to evoke the connection among place. altitude). the term terroir is as old as the hills that it long designated. was called the accent of his terroir. Bordeaux wines. or the human element. dirt) and territoire (territory. of unclear provenance and little savor. winegrowers from the Médoc region . During the twentieth century. the effort to decentralize culture from Paris into the provinces led to cooperation between the state and the regions to develop local identities. Additional details. For wine. a Chablis. pinot noir) from which they are made. the term took on an association with other characteristics perceived as local. are named second.

This reinforced the connection between the place where grapes where grown and the resulting wine. the specific type. They paid special attention to aging the reds in oak barrels. which could be applied to wines from locations other than in Bordeaux. the AOC certifies the place of origin. as imitations of the distinguished bottles came on the market. More capacious legislation passed in 1935 established the Appellation d’origine contrôlée. Courtesy of Philippe Bornier. In the first year. Today. . the AOC was expanded to cover all manner of foods as well as wines. The prestigious labels were not easy to obtain. from the poulet de Bresse (Bresse Village appellation red burgundy from the Côte de Beaune district of the Côte d’Or. In 1990. The fifth estate was not added until 1973. the premier cru designation was awarded to wines from four estates. and the mode of production of a variety of products. these growers also consolidated the cultivated parcels on their estates.19 The many winemakers whom the grades excluded naturally wished to obtain some sort of distinguishing label for their own bottles.36 Food Culture in France applied themselves to strategically developing grands crus or distinguished Bordeaux wines that stand up to long aging and command very high prices. As a measure of protection for their exceptional wines. The fraud laws became important for winemakers. Along the way. The best label of premier cru (first growth) and even the least distinguished label of cinquième cru (fifth growth) vastly increased the market value of these wines. proprietors evolved special classifications that were applied beginning in 1855. To improve quality. they carefully cultivated the oldest and best vines.

The certification of the AOC gives a concrete. to various fruits. It embodies the general acknowledgment that food with the best flavor and the most appealing textures may result from carefully. laws pertaining to food must now be negotiated within that framework. Because the designation AOC indicates a historical pedigree and also functions something like a patent for the final product. Today the European Commission administers a set of indications based on geography and origin for food and wine in all the member states. In 1992. The AOC also functions as a protectionist measure that is a boon to sellers and producers and to tourism. FRANCE AND EUROPE Because of membership in the European Union.Historical Overview 37 chicken) and beurre d’Isigny-Sainte-Mère (Isigny-Sainte-Mère butter). radishes. the European Community Council passed regulations based on the French AOC that extend to all the member states. ironically. and including some of the vins de table (table wines). with the reduction of trade barriers within the member Farmer selling artichokes. overseen processes of cultivation and manufacture. Courtesy of Philippe Bornier. and lettuce at market shortly before the conversion in 2002 from the French franc to the Euro as the unit of currency. even painstakingly. The passage of the European legislation coincided. . extensive research and documentation are necessary to establish the application dossier for a food. practical form to the appreciation for quality and particularity.

But these stances hardly prevent ongoing engagement with European projects. O’Sullivan (New York: Cima Publishing Company. the Presbyter. 829–36). 2 vols. 1910). or even much reduce. translator and editor Mark Grant (Totnes. 1970). 2. 1971). NOTES 1. Vita Sadalbergae abbatissae Laudunensis 20. der August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel. for fear of the consequences that greater liberalism could have on cherished social protections and on the quality of life. 1538. 36. 54. Cited in Sainted Women of the Dark Ages. 189–90 and Bonnie Effros. Salaman. 254 Helmst. This has led. on occasion. 636 and 674. 1947). 3. 1 (Paris: GarnierFlammarion. In the spring of 2005. published Madrid: 1886). in Oeuvres vol. The History and Social Influence of the Potato (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. in Capitulare de villis. Creating Community with Food and Drink in Merovingian Gaul (New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 16. the primary challenge is to balance the particular concerns of France with the larger endeavors of Europe. Le Mesnagier de Paris (ca. they simply make clear that. 1994). Salvian of Marseille. Anthimus. 7. Devon: Prospect Books. editor Bruno Krusch. This includes a relatively liberal approach toward free trade and privatization. 4. Life of Charlemagne (ca. Einhard the Frank. translator Jeremiah F. On the Governance of God (c. editors and translators Jo Ann McNamara and John E. the negative vote was seen as a major setback for Europe. Halborg with E. Despite compliance in other areas. at present.. France is notorious for refusing to abandon. At the time. III and VII. 2002). Gordon Whatley (Durham: Duke University Press. 1949). 64–67. editor Carlrichard Brühl (Stuttgart: Müller und Schindler. “Volumus quod in horto omnes herbas habeant…” (We want that all the plants be cultivated in the garden…). Ferrier. LXX. in Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Scriptores rerum merovingicarum 5 (Hanover: Impensis bibliopolii Hahniani. translator Karin Ueltschi (Paris: Librarie Générale Française. Brereton and Janet M. 1393). a popular vote defeated a referendum to approve the proposed draft of a European Constitution. guelf. editors Georgina E. 8. Rather. Nicolas Boileau. from The Writings of Salvian. 1969). Cited in Redcliffe N. De observatione ciborum (On the Observance of Foods).38 Food Culture in France states of the European Union. 1996). Historia del Nuevo Reino de Granada (ca. cod. . Karolus Imperator Capitulare de Villis. 1992). Satires (1663–1701). 6. Juan de Castellanos. 5. 440s). 61. subsidies in place since the early 1960s for its farmers. Compliance with European economic policy imposes common standards on member nations. translator Lewis Thorpe (London: Folio Society. to conflicts of interest.

Cinquième année (Paris: Maradan. ou de l’éducation (1762). Adel P. 14.” in French Food: On the Table. Eugen Weber. The Invention of the Restaurant (Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 99–118 in Food. Food. 233. and in French Culture. Vintages and Traditions (Washington: Smithsonian Institution. 2003). The Hollow Years: France in the 1930s (New York: Norton. 1966). editors Lawrence R.. 1985). 46–50.” in La qualité des produits en France (XVIIIe-XXe siècles). 2000). Alessandro Stanziani. eds. Dana Strand. 1880–1914. “La construction de la qualité du vin. Martin Breugel. editor Peter Scholliers (Oxford: Berg. Robert Darnton. 337–49 in Marc Jacobs and Peter Scholliers. Eating Out in Europe (Oxford: Berg. on the Page. Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Emile. “Film. 10. and ‘La Francité’: From le pain quotidien to McDo. 19. 2001). Ulin.” pp. “Technological Innovations and Eating Out as a Mass Phenomenon in Europe. Robert C. 1996). “A Bourgeois Good? Sugar. Rebecca Spang.” in The Great Cat Massacre and Other Episodes in French Cultural History (1984. 123–50. Norms of Consumption and the Labouring Classes in Nineteenth-Century France. 18. New York: Vintage Books. 16. editor Alessandro Stanziani (Paris: Belin. 12. Weiss (New York: Routledge. 194. Schehr and Allen S. 1807). Grimod de la Reynière. Anne Lhuissier. Book 2 (Paris: Garnier-Flammarion. 263–80 in Jacobs and Scholliers. Drink and Identity. 37. 15. .Historical Overview 39 9. 1994). 13. 11.” pp.” pp. “Readers Respond to Rousseau: The Fabrication of Romantic Sensitivity. 2001). 203–20. den Hartog. Almanach des gourmands. 2003). “Eating Out during the Workday: Consumption and Working Habits among Urban Labourers in France in the Second Half of the Nineteenth Century. 17.


2 Major Foods and Ingredients An astounding variety of foods are eaten in France. each person ate 500 grams (on the order of a half-pound) daily. for instance. then cheese. as well as the typical preparations give beef a special flavor in France. The taste for. different butchering practices. as well as a powerful religious symbol. Bread. more recently. to long-standing traditions of cultivation and of practices such as hunting. wine. and meat come first. and eponymous exports such as Champagne. baked goods—and the digestif (after-dinner drink) appear at the end. because it is how you earn (gagner) the bread that keeps you alive. grated raw celery root salad with a cream dressing—a favorite bistro lunch—may come as a a surprise. Horse is not treated as food in the United States. Only a century ago. followed by vegetables. To “take the bread out of someone’s mouth” is to rob him of his livelihood. the common orchard fruits. Americans are of course quite familiar with items such as beef. Your pain quotidien (daily bread) is the food that you count on eating every day. to the many imports. BREAD For centuries. Today. about three . This is due to the diversity of agricultural production. To present the major foods and ingredients. Even so. The language has numerous expressions that refer to bread. say. this chapter broadly follows the structure of the traditional meal in courses. Dessert—fruits. A slang word for a job is gagne-pain. and. bread was a staple of the diet.

for country-style loaves. rather in boulangeries (bakery shops) or industrial bakeries. Courtesy of Hervé Depoil. In a bakery the baguette can be purchased bien cuite (well cooked). Bread—no matter how small the quantity—makes a meal complete. Rustic . and moister on the inside.5 inches). and restaurants. although it is eaten all over the country. or pas trop cuite (baked less). Large round boules used to be a staple. that is. taken out of the oven when it is still pale gold. A slim relative of the baguette is the ficelle (string). bistros. similarly long but half the diameter. thin. the crust is crispy. In cafés. At best. and the crumb chewy and delicate. by weight. Bread is rarely made at home. crusty white baguette is typical of Paris. The long (70 cm or 27. The bâtard (bastard) is a free-form loaf named for the mixed leavening agents—both yeast and a sour-dough starter—used to make it. darker and dryer. as a matter of course. Recent interest in eating whole grains for health has brought dark breads back into fashion. slices of bread are placed on the table in a basket to accompany food. Breads are identified by name and.42 Food Culture in France Buying a baguette at the boulangerie Au pain chô in Sainte Maxime. that is. and darker bread made from unrefined wheat or rye was typical for the poor. or four slices of bread is average. The dough rising on the racks at the back of the shop awaits baking. delicately crispy.

however. They require more labor. such as among . and lovers. a safe beverage that gives life and strength. The old-style breads cost more than industrially produced loaves but taste so much better that people seek them out. unrefined. and cider. The “different” wines drunk by rag-pickers. Sprinkled on top of a dish of meat. Jewish bakeries sell challah. Wine has long been thought of as hygienic and nourishing. In Paris. and deep sleep. assassins. Recently. They use older processes. vegetables. Wine was usually mixed with water. or else broken off in chunks. beer. They choose better ingredients. Before the modern understanding of water cleanliness and contamination. wine consumption averaged 170 liters (45 gallons) per person yearly. to eat with a meal. Croûtons are placed in the bottom of onion soup bowls. The high level of alcohol consumption led to high levels of liver problems and alcoholism. it really was often safer to drink wine. Panade is a carryover from poorer days and peasant traditions. As recently as the late 1930s. not to mention poets1 lead variously to drunkenness (either divine or simply boorish). or potatoes that is baked in the oven. When bread-baking practices were standardized and mechanized in the second half of the twentieth century. The old-style processes are slower. the artisanal methods result in bread that has a deeper flavor. quality declined. WINE Wine has been produced on French soil since antiquity. or stoneground flours. and they accompany fish soups. such as organic. Bread and crumbs have numerous uses in cooking. Most bread is sliced in the kitchen or at table.Major Foods and Ingredients 43 pains de campagne (country breads) can be enriched with dried figs. when adding bread to soup made a heartier meal. and other cities with Jewish communities. The taste for croûtons (toasted slices of bread) with soup remains. they form an attractive crust. the braided loaf fortified with eggs that is eaten on the Sabbath. It usually was drunk mixed with water. In the mid-nineteenth century. In certain métiers or trades. spiritual transcendence. some bakers have begun to reverse this trend. poet Charles Baudelaire evoked the infinitely variable “soul” of wine in a series of poems. poetic inspiration. and attention from the baker. effectively sterilized through the presence of alcohol. responsible for a fifth of global production. and better keeping qualities. France is the premier producer in the world. skill. Today. Metz. earthly contentment. as well as bagels covered with poppy or sesame seeds. such as proofing with sourdough or wheat flour starter instead of with fast-rising yeast. a silkier and more elastic crumb. olives. about a half-liter (the better part of a pint) each day. and nuts.

others richer and more complex. Dry Champagne marries well . Tradition and experiment suggest rules of thumb for pairing wine and food. Although only one in four French men and women regularly drinks wine. each brings out the tastes and textures of the other to best advantage. the national beverage. and wine is integrated into meals. The individual flavor and character of each wine derives from the grapes as well as from the production processes. as heavy drinking is now understood to threaten health and safety.44 Food Culture in France Historical. and balanced—and as enjoyable as possible. diluting wine with water is now quite rare. taking them separately. old drinking traditions have not disappeared.75 gallons) of wine per person each year. it is essential to the culture of the table. For an everyday meal. having less sugar. tannery workers. The average stands at approximately 60 liters (15. This causes concern for colleagues. and others sweeter. Some wines are dryer. Courtesy of Christian Verdet/regard public-unpact. It is one of the components that contributes to making a meal complete—structured. Alcoholic beverages generally are always accompanied by food. and vice versa. Today. or less than one glass each day. A separate wine for each course is de rigueur for formal and celebration meals. harmonious. Wine sets off food. wine is drunk undiluted but in smaller quantities. Some are lighter and simpler in flavor. people drink water and wine. although combinations ultimately depend on personal preference. and religious significance contribute to the importance of wine. economic.

Concerns for health are causing perceptible shifts in this pattern. Although wine drinking overall has declined. Standards and methods of production vastly improved throughout the twentieth century. wine is a cooking medium for meat stews and bean dishes. After a piece of meat is sautéed in a pan.Major Foods and Ingredients 45 with just about anything and may be drunk throughout an entire meal. Fruit macerated or soaked in wine acquires tenderness as well as flavor. Bordeaux. France is the foremost producer of meat in the European Union. if red). such as red meats and cheese. In larger amounts. On average. only slightly behind Australians (110 kilograms or 242 pounds yearly) and Americans (105 kilograms or 231 pounds) as the biggest consumers of meat in the world. Of course. Meat is the centerpiece for most main meals. Full-bodied red wines from Burgundy. Today. there are few vegetarians in France. and Languedoc set off sturdy or rich savory foods. Since 1975. French cooks have the reputation of being creative and frugal. wasting nothing. Such bottles are not meant to be kept or aged after bottling. veal. any Muscat. They are best drunk within at most a few months. period. even the cheapest vin ordinaire (everyday wine) tends to be of decent quality. These are the exceptional wines that mature and develop over time (measured in years). Dry white wines accompany fish or seafood to good effect. Red wines that are light in character complement chicken dishes. the trend is to drink better quality wines. It raises more than enough for its own population. Sweet white wines such as Sauternes. although for the moment the trend to eat significantly less meat occurs largely at the highest rungs of the economic ladder. ingenious and resourceful. Both whites and reds are used for flavoring. The gut-searing piquette of days past has practically disappeared. and Monbazillac pair with foie gras or with a salty appetizer at the beginning of a meal. MEAT In today’s affluent society. most people simply purchase inexpensive bottles along with the rest of the groceries. improving over a long. leaving only the flavor (and color. but imports to meet the large demand for cuts such as steaks and roasts. the consumption of fine wines has doubled. and charcuterie. Poured cold over fruit or berries. They have invented succulent dishes that use all parts of animals slaughtered for meat. simple preparations. . The alcohol cooks off. consumption of la viande (meat) is high. although finite. although the modern lifestyle prefers fast. Cooking assigns wine a large number of tasks. each person eats 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of meat yearly. wine is poured in over high heat to deglaze the pan and mix with the meat juices to form a sauce. wine forms a marinade.

mushrooms. pepper. braising. and racks (with bones in) for roasting. Nearly all methods of cooking are used for beef: boiling. much of it imported from the United States. The dish is baked. Potau-feu combines several types of meat for a rich boiled dinner. as the practice was associated with pagan rituals. Provençal boeuf en daube. date the consumption of horse to prehistoric times. or à point (medium rare). Before horses were domesticated. For hachis parmentier (shepherd’s pie). Beef or horse chopped up and eaten raw is tartare. frying. bacon. Overcooking dries out the meat. eating horse was frowned upon. It features in recipes adopted from the cuisines of France’s former colonies. Gregory III in 732. Venison. highly flavored condiments. Cuts of veal are roasted. Thin steaks are accompanied by fried potatoes for steak-frites. then served cut in squares. stews cooked in an earthenware pot with a conical cover and a hole in the top like a chimney through which the steam escapes. sautéing. meat for stewing. are typical regional dishes. grilled. The delicate.46 Food Culture in France Beef and Veal Most boeuf (beef) comes from the powerful white Charolais cows originally used as draft animals or from cows formerly bred for milk: the black-and-white Normande and the Salers from the Auvergne. the preferred hunting method was to drive large numbers of them off the edge of a cliff. and Goat Studded with garlic and perfumed with rosemary. according to preference. leaving only the concentrated flavors of the dish. stewing. Large quantities of horse bones at Upper Pleistocene sites at Solutré. a roasted gigot d’agneau (leg of lamb) is the favorite celebration or Sunday meal. ruining the flavor as well as the texture. then cooked slowly to make stews. including chopped onion. in Burgundy. sometimes a raw egg is broken over the tartare. mustard. Two popes. Cheval (horse). French butchering practices differ from American. and . pickles. flavored with red wine and orange peel. Lamb gives chops. saignant (“bloody. such as Moroccan tagines. and broiling. Horse. Lamb. ground beef is arranged in a baking pan between two layers of potatoes mashed with milk. and boeuf Bourguignon. or beef stew with Burgundy. rather than red. because of its color. In the early Christian era. sautéed. capers.” rare). Tastes do not run to well-cooked steaks. and parsley.” quite rare). grilling. Veal is considered white meat. or stewed. roasting. Fattier cuts of beef are cut into small chunks or cubes. sweet-tasting raw meat is garnished with pungent. is eaten on a smaller scale than in the past. and small onions. salt. Thicker steaks are eaten bleu (“blue. The cuts of meat are more numerous and smaller.

it was a mark of prosperity to be able to keep a pig. In a historically rural country. potatoes. opened in Paris. Horse enjoyed a short-lived rise in popularity after the mad cow scares of the 1990s. and dried sausages. steaks.”2 He meant that nearly every part is edible. chops. smoking. Their interdictions affected consumption throughout Europe. such as chopped raw and garnished in tartare or cooked as steaks and cutlets. and flavorful. wild pig) is also cooked using similar methods as for pork. Chèvre (goat) is eaten on Corsica. and garnish salads. In the 1850s. smoking and drying preserved meat that could not be consumed right away and must be stored against hunger. the taste for charcuterie is general. More than any other meat. In the past. and productivity would rise. lean. on the principle that it would improve the diet of the laboring classes. meaty fresh bacon. Pieds de porc (trotters. and ribs. then tucked into a roast. A few of the specialized butcher shops remain. and pan-fried to add to . or boucherie hippophagique. Today. In 1866. charcuterie was food for the poor. Whereas the wealthy could afford freshly slaughtered meat. and then fried or baked. stews. the government promoted horsemeat. fillets. The range of charcuterie—cured and cooked preparations primarily from pork—testifies to the ingenuity of generations of butchers and charcutiers. The dictum Tout est bon dans le cochon (Everything from the pig is good) echoes this observation. primarily in stewed and braised dishes. sausages. and vegetables. Pork and Charcuterie Porc (pork) is relatively inexpensive and served in roasts. Today. forbade eating horsemeat. Chevreau (kid) is eaten in the South in the early spring. some preparations are marked with the AOC (Controlled Denomination of Origin). Lardons are strips or cubes of pork back fat or lean salt pork that are seasoned. including the skin. pork takes to processing through salting. In 1808. farm-raised sanglier (boar. is indispensable. Lard. or pickled. and pickling. the first boucherie chevaline. enrich soups and stews. Chevreuil (venison) is available in markets and on restaurant menus in the form of steaks. especially in the Paris region and in the Northeast toward Belgium. Horse is darker red than beef. pigs’ feet) are braised. drying. added to stews. Small pieces flavor omelets. It is prepared like good-quality beef.Major Foods and Ingredients 47 Zaccharias in 751. the food writer Grimod de la Reynière praised the pig as “encyclopedic” and a “generous animal. any horsemeat that was available was cheap because it was unpopular. By the nineteenth century. which would be slaughtered for its meat. A cochon de lait (suckling pig) is roasted whole.

Jambons (hams). It appears in the spectacular cold preparation jambon persillé from Burgundy. Bits of pink ham and chopped bright green parsley are molded in clear aspic to make colorful. Boudin noir (blood sausage) is coagulated beef or pig blood. soaked. Dry sausages have a firm. the enormous. Saucisses or fresh sausages require cooking before being consumed. is a finely textured pork sausage made from bits of the belly. like the Italian treatment of prosciutto. Some hearty stews are based on chunks of fresh ham. glands. outstanding when cooked on a grill. Merguez are spiced beef or lamb sausages of North African origin. mass. the head. lumpy Jésus de Morteau was originally a Christmas sausage. and then cooked. as part of a light lunch. whereas saucisses sèches or saucissons secs (dry or salamitype sausages) need only to be sliced. and brains—were often reserved for feasts or celebrations. Ham is eaten as an appetizer. Whole green pistachios may add sweetness and crunch to a hunter’s venison sausage. made of pig intestines and stomach that are cleaned. butchers call les abats (offal) the cinquième quartier (fifth quarter) of a slaughtered animal. Braised in fat. such as whole peppercorns. Franç ois Rabelais. the meat breaks down into a smooth. the feet. wrote an offal feast into his novel Gargantua (1534): Les tripes furent copieuses. Offal has always been the cheapest meat. It has a soft. are a staple. Richly fatty. oily texture and a sharp flavor from the salt. salty. salty hams sliced paper-thin are eaten with figs and slices of melon. comme entendez. . kidneys. Andouille or andouillettes is chitterling sausage. and is purplish-black in color. The “noble” cuts. or sliced into an omelet or quiche. although the choice pieces—calf livers. professor. and none have a sweet coating on the outside. pepper. French hams are less salty than American. Saucisses de Morteau. or steaks and roasts. It is double-cooked: lightly poached. boiling sausages. shoulder. Offal In defiance of mathematics. the priest turned physician. then pan-fried. lardons are served to accompany a before-dinner drink. Rillettes. jewel-like slices. boiled and smoked. native to Tours. Rillettes are served sliced into rounds and spread on crusty bread or toast to accompany an apéritif such as a glass of dry white wine.48 Food Culture in France salads. chewy texture and a swirly appearance from the strips that compose it. and gullet. are recognized by their seal and a tiny wooden peg tied into the end of the sausage. marinated. and crisp. and other spices that flavor them. creamy. Sliced andouille has a firm. rich. Les abats are the rest: organ meats. pale. Dry. derive from the two forequarters and hindquarters. unctuous texture. smoked. and scribbler. with vegetables and spices added for flavor.

Tripes (tripe or stomach) have a honey-comblike appearance. Pale. and pork liver is used in pâté. i. metaphorically. Gras double is beef tripe that is cleaned. Like the beef pot-au-feu. The blue-footed. although domestic demand increases for organic and free-range birds. it is a boiled dish that gives both soup and a main course from the meat. they are sold with head and feet intact. animelles (testicles. and coeur de boeuf (beef heart) are eaten. delicate foie de veau (calf liver) is coated with a minimal dusting of flour. traditionally overnight. but butchers and supermarkets sell offal. they are fricasseed or braised. Turkey and goose are fare for the Christmas season. then rolled before cooking.e. and a tender texture from slow braising. calf. Elegant suprême de poulet is a chicken breast stuffed with vegetables sliced very fine. then garnished with a red wine sauce. Chapon (capon). canard (duck). There are few specialist tripiers these days. . pigeonneau (squab). then fried or sautéed. then served with a sauce having a strong acidic component from tomatoes. Cut into pieces. Whole chickens are roasted to a golden brown. Poule-au-pot (“chicken in the pot”) is a favorite dish for a weekend meal. lemon. or wine. frivolités).. Duck is considered dark or red meat. sometimes as brochettes (grilled on skewers). however. white-feathered. and dinde or dindon (turkey) are eaten. vinegar. as it is large and firm. turkey is in demand year round. cooked. Beef kidney requires braising. but pork and lamb kidneys are eaten as well. The game birds caille (quail). Most birds are raised on industrial chicken farms. Poultry and Rabbit La volaille (poultry) is a versatile basic. France exports more poulet (chicken) than any other country in the world. then gently sautéed in butter. tripe acquires an apple flavor from cider or Calvados. Beef and lamb offal further features in the East European and North African Jewish and Muslim cuisines that enrich French cooking. oie (goose). Cooked à la mode de Caen.Major Foods and Ingredients 49 et tant friandes estoient que chacun en leichoit ses doigtz (“The tripe was so copious and so luscious. Ris de veau (sweetbreads. also called. the thymus gland and sometimes the pancreas). Livers are also grilled. faisan (pheasant). Tête de veau (calf’s head) is carefully boned so that the features are maintained. that everyone licked their fingers”). or lamb is boiled or braised. pintade (Guinea fowl). or lightly stewed or braised with a sauce such as tomato and red wine. red-crested coq gaulois or Gallic cock that is the symbol of France is a Bresse fowl and has the AOC. The langue (tongue) from a cow. Lamb or calf cervelles (brains) are marinated. Rognons de veau (calf kidneys) have the finest texture and flavor. and ready to eat. and it is served with the breast done slightly rare and pink.

melting texture. and omelets. Rabbit responds especially well to moist cooking such as a braise. ducks are given the same treatment as the geese. usually as an appetizer or first course. giving a distinctive unctuous feel on the tongue and a dark color. Lapin (rabbit) and lièvre (hare) are sold with poultry. Today. both the meat prepared in this fashion and the flavors of the fats are much appreciated. but the wild animals are fair game for amateur hunters. The traditional combination of foie gras with truffles is considered the ultimate indulgence. as kosher dietary laws permitted eating fowl. Some fresh livers are sold raw to be cooked at home. French household manuals from as early as the sixteenth century give explicit instructions for fostering grand foie (“big liver”) in geese4 through gavage (force-feeding with grain). It pairs with jellies and with fortified or sweet wines.50 Food Culture in France perdrix (partridge). for confit d’oie or confit de canard (preserved goose or duck). Goose . which enlarge and develop the characteristic silky. Today. Good foie gras is pink and firm and has a clean-looking shine. The resulting fat is stored primarily in their livers. which tend to dry out. vegetables. The rendered fat prevents the meat from coming into contact with air. making confit was essential for storing the meat. so they can swallow about a cup of grain at a time if it is gently funneled into their throats. The tradition was long associated with Jewish communities in Metz and Strasbourg. and Romans ate foie gras d’oie or fattened goose liver3. Goose fat lends outstanding flavor when used to pan-fry potatoes. Geese lack a gag reflex. large sections from different livers that are lightly pressed together are less expensive. Hot preparations of foie gras are in fact heated just enough to bring out the flavors and texture. rabbit and hare are farmed. and bécassine (snipe) are considered special treats. It is eaten hot or cold. are often sold already barded or wrapped with strips of bacon or salt pork that melt during cooking. More frequently they are cooked first. Phoenicians. before refrigeration. and it is used in cooking. Plump geese and ducks raised for foie gras can be cooked and then stored in their own fat. At this point the foie gras requires no further cooking. The small birds. The association derives from the practice of keeping chickens and rabbits in proximity in a basse-cour (farmyard). Civet de lapin is rabbit stew flavored with red wine and thickened with the rabbit’s blood or with pig blood. then sold jarred or canned. Foie gras and Confit d’oie The Egyptians. Whole lobes are considered higher quality. mixtures of foie gras and fats resemble pâtés. Most foie gras now comes from several departments in the Southwest. bécasse (woodcock).

which have supplied very little fish since the mid-twentieth century. Bouillabaisse is a Provenç al specialty from the Côte d’Azur. people order nearly as much fish as meat. Most interpretations involve a base of vegetables (onions. FISH Home cooks prepare poisson (fish) and fruits de mer (seafood) less frequently than they do meat because the cooking is perceived as difficult or delicate. Eggs are essential in baking cakes and pastries. Carcassonne. poached eggs are garnished with a clear sauce such as a red wine reduction for oeufs en meurette. Cultivated fish further lack the flavor and texture of their wild counterparts. In the South. goose. yolks are used in custards. ducks. The combination of pork rinds. Hard boiled eggs are combined with vegetables and a sturdy sauce to make a main dish. fried. duck. grated cheese. every bouillabaisse cook claims an authentic and superior recipe. poached. and Toulouse. by contrast. to which stock . short pastry filled with savory custard flavored with ham or smoked bacon. Traditionally. an elegant entrée. although markets and farm stands sell eggs from geese. and black pepper. and whites are beaten up into meringues. hard boiled. or lamb with haricots blancs (navy beans) is baked in a slow oven. and quail. nutmeg. and stuffed. and waste and toxins pollute fishing waters. The international trade networks and the use of freezers make most kinds of fish and shellfish available year round. As in the United States. flat. round frittatas heavy with vegetables or potatoes are sliced into wedges like a cake for a summer meal. As with any great dish that is widely loved. EGGS Les oeufs (eggs) are made into innumerable dishes for lunch and dinner. the hearty stew associated with the towns of Castelnaudary. Creamy fish and seafood soups including bisques are popular in the Atlantic region. industrial fishing has exhausted natural populations. the brown crust must be punched into the pot seven or eight times during baking. softboiled. they are not eaten at breakfast. baked.5 As in many coastal countries. In restaurants. the term egg refers automatically to a chicken egg. Farm fishing adds to the supply but stresses the environment. the exact number is a matter of debate among cooks and members of one of the gastronomic confréries (brotherhoods or associations) that is devoted to cassoulet.Major Foods and Ingredients 51 or duck fat flavors cassoulet. The same is true for France’s rivers. Eggs appear as omelets and soufflés and in quiche Lorraine. garlic. tomatoes) and herbs. Eggs are scrambled.

and spiny-scaled grondin (gurnard). and pepper. It has flavorful. salt. fresh mayonnaise flavored with crushed garlic. The silky. daurade (bream). ray) gives triangular ailes (wings). and. delicate flakes and is best treated with the utmost simplicity. olive oil is beaten into a mashed potato or some bread crumbs. and drizzled with browned butter. Oursinade is fish soup served with sea urchins and a creamy mixture of egg yolks and butter. are anguille (eel). carrelet (plaice). Bourride. Saumon (salmon) has been overfished from the Loire River where it was once plentiful. merlan (whiting). It is common to add a few fennel seeds and a shot of anise-flavored liquor such as pastis or some white wine. carpe (carp). broiled. Savory mousses. as well as main dishes. Rascasse (Mediterranean rockfish. Other fish that feature in soups and sauces. In a successful au bleu. Because of its famously hideous appearance. frying and smoking feature in fish cookery. herbed cooking liquid acidulated with vinegar. dumplings. They have inspired numerous preparations. lotte (monkfish) is. strongly flavored . Saffron gives color and flavor. and merlu (hake). Quenelles are light-textured fish dumplings that are poached and sauced. never sold whole. because of the unusual firmness of the flesh. chilies or cayenne pepper. lacks tomatoes but contains mussels along with white fish such as cabillaud (cod) and lotte (monkfish). Raie (skate. thon (tuna). Fish soups are accompanied by a red-brown rouille (“rust”). Trout cooked au bleu is poached in spiced. as well. some with stuffings made of finely chopped vegetables. The flatfish turbot (turbot) and sole (sole) are among the finest fish eaten. baked. Fish cooked à la meunière is floured and pan fried. then flavored with mashed fresh garlic. grilled. and shellfish. rouget or barbet (mullet). Finefleshed truite (trout) appears in classic preparations such as au bleu. It is eaten in stews. Rouille is spread on toast or stirred by the spoonful directly into the soup. In the South. exceptionally. unless very large. or steamed. meaty flesh and no bones. imported Atlantic salmon is what is usually eaten. and loaf-shaped terrines are based on fish that is ground to a smooth paste then mixed with seasonings. Fish with the best texture and flavor is not disguised in soup. herbs. Bourride is pale in color and enriched with cream. moist flesh has long. it is the only fish that is rolled and tied into roasts. the sauce that takes its color from cayenne pepper. Other fish added according to preference include loup de mer or bar (sea bass). brochet (pike). Saint-Pierre (John Dory). but always beheaded. sometimes an egg yolk is added to make the sauce richer. but rather poached. the fish dramatically curls and splits. sprinkled with lemon juice and chopped parsley. another fish soup. scorpion fish) is the cornerstone. It is served with toast and aïoli. For rouille. followed by several kinds of fish and shellfish.52 Food Culture in France or water is added.

silky huîtres (oysters) and palourdes (clams) are eaten raw on the half-shell and cooked. and salt and pepper. but supplies are purchased from elsewhere. moules-frites is a favorite bistro meal. and crevettes grises (tiny North Sea prawns) are often paired with a creamy sauce. the mashed salt cod is mixed with mashed potatoes or bread crumbs. Étrilles (small crabs) lend excellent flavor to soups. then broiled or served as fillets with green salad. Pablo Picasso painted the picture Le Gobeur d’oursins (1946) showing a happy eater gobbling (gober) down this delicacy directly from the shell. Tourteaux (larger crabs) appear with smaller shellfish and with homard (lobster) on spectacular cold seafood platters. such as in creamy bisques. Larger than shrimp but smaller than lobster in size. so that the fish absorb the flavor of the vines. While living on the Côte d’Azur. both oily fish. the fried potatoes are on the side. people use one of the half-shells as a spoon and scoop out the meat from the other mussels. SHELLFISH Mollusks such as briny. are often lightly smoked. Stockfisch (dried salted cod) is soaked in water or milk to rehydrate it and reduce the salt. Coquilles SaintJacques and pétoncles (large and small scallops) are sold with the smooth orange roe sac attached to the white cylinder of flesh. This delicacy is lightly salted. The Mediterranean coast provides oursin (sea urchin). an echinoderm having a porcupine-like exterior but yellow-orange lobes that are buttery in texture and sweetly briny. then baked. For brandade de morue. although ostensibly of Belgian origin. Calmars or encornets (squid) are also stuffed. then grilled. Herring and maquereau (mackerel).Major Foods and Ingredients 53 Mediterranean sardines are fried or else arranged on grape leaves and vine twigs. Shell fish appear in soups and sauces and in stuffings for larger fish. Crustaceans such as crevettes (shrimp) from the North Atlantic. Scallops are quickly seared over high heat or baked in a sauce that is somewhat liquid. milk or cream. To eat moules. or else slowly braised. Hareng bouffi is in fact a whole herring. This becomes the sauce. Moules (mussels) are always cooked. langoustines (Dublin Bay prawns) and langoustes (crayfish) appear in cold and in hot preparations. firm-fleshed poulpe (octopus) is cut into . Reddish. Harengs (herring) are no longer fished in French waters. The Mediterranean cephalopods are popular quickly fried and served with slices of lemon. The moules are steamed open in a broth lightly flavored with tomato. Rollmops or herring fillets marinated in vinegar are served cold with boiled potatoes. intact but still “stuffed” with spawn. Accras (Caribbean fried codfish balls) have become a popular appetizer and are purchased freshly made from caterers. then smoked.

beef fat) and saindoux (lard.54 Food Culture in France pieces for cold dressed salads or braising.6 The cuisses de grenouille have a silky. BUTTER AND OIL It used to be possible to distinguish northerners from southerners by the way they said “yes” (oui). Northerners spoke the langue d’oï l or language of oï l. mollusks found on land. while southerners spoke the langue d’oc. has a deep yellow color and a richly developed . Northerners used graisse de boeuf (suet. plates with round concavities stabilize the shells. Today. mounds dating to Roman times attest the long tradition of eating escargots (snails). Southerners used huile d’olive (olive oil) pressed from the fruit grown in their warmer territories. cuisses de grenouilles (frog legs) are flown in frozen from China. as in other parts of Europe such as Italy. making a highly flavored sauce that can be sopped up with a piece of bread. Theoretically. They are cleaned. pork fat) from their animals. North was also distinguished from south by the fat used as a cooking medium. associated with the cattle regions of Normandy and Brittany. SNAILS In France. FROGS The grenouilles (frogs) to which the French owe their nickname are indeed widely appreciated. when they were especially popular. Fresh water lakes were the source for frogs during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. frog legs are served with slices of lemon for garnish. smooth texture and a slightly fishy flavor. Special utensils are used: a rounded tongs to hold the shell steady. they are imported frozen from Turkey. then replaced in the shells. which has a much older tradition of eating frog. beurre (butter) and other animal fats were to be avoided on fast days. the butter melts over the tiny beast. They are best deep-fried or pan fried. Like fish. and a miniature fork with sharp tines to spear the snail. Seiches (cuttlefish) are cooked whole. In the oven. For serving. Snails are most often prepared in the typical Burgundian fashion.7 The best farmhouse butter. although the Catholic Church granted dispensations to areas where oil was rare and expensive. so they do not roll. which are filled up with butter mashed with chopped herbs and garlic.

de noisettes (hazelnut). In liquid vegetable oils. Greece. Huile de palme or de coprah (palm oil) and huile de soja (soy oil) are used in industrial contexts such as making packaged cookies and biscuits. rich cooking. Average consumption for olive oil is 1. hard sausage. especially olive oil. Hot milk is essential to the breakfast . and de noix (walnut) feature in salads and dressings that show off their outstanding taste. Fats and oils carry fatty acids essential to growth and reproduction. and quality of flavor. vegetables. The grades and labels for olive oil reflect the pressing (first or subsequent). degree of acidity. FRESH CHEESE. in the case of cheese. Fresh milk in France is pasteurized (heat treated at 75–85 degrees C for 15–30 seconds) or sterilized at even higher temperatures. Italy. Olive oil varies in color from bright green to yellow and in flavor from lively. Rarer huile de pépins de raisins (grapeseed oil). preserving milk over time. and the nut oils are used in baking. Butter is associated with distinguished. as well. France produces olive oil in the South and imports it from Spain. with its greater use of grains. It is used in cooking and is indispensable in pastry making. so it is used for deepfrying and pan-frying over high heat. to very mild. and Turkey. and peppery for the green oils. Butter is spread on bread for a plain tartine and for sandwiches with ham. Olive oil is key to Provenç al cooking. or cheese. and fruits—France’s local version of the Mediterranean diet. Most milk sold is from cows. yesterday’s generous use of butter is considered heavy-handed and old-fashioned.Major Foods and Ingredients 55 flavor. the more healthful unsaturated fats predominate over saturated fat (associated with blood cholesterol increase). By today’s standards. along with fat-soluble vitamins A and E. while providing protein and. most goat and sheep milk goes into cheese. referred to as la cuisine au beurre (butter cuisine). Milk is drunk plain primarily by infants and children. Mild-flavored huile de colza (canola or rapeseed oil) and huile de tournesol (sunflower oil) are domestically grown and the most widely used oils for everyday cooking and for making salad dressings and mayonnaise. AND YOGURT Lait (milk) and laitages (dairy products) have always been much cheaper than meat. fruity. CREAM. Milk that is flash-treated at 145 degrees C for UHT (ultra-haute température or ultra-high temperature) sterilization can then be stored at room temperature in sealed tetrapacks until opened.6 kg annually and growing8. olive oil connoisseurship is on the rise. however. MILK. Imported huile d’arachide (peanut oil) is neutral in flavor and has a high smoking point.

It is eaten at breakfast. the curds are beaten to create a smooth texture. and baked gratins to give them smoothness and body. salt. before the fruit or dessert. Crème fraîche is slightly fermented. eventually spreading through the Middle East and central Europe. Each person takes a small slice or triangle of the cheeses. bought plain or sweetened in individually sized containers. although other descriptors are used. and pepper. To conclude a formal or festive meal. Garnished with chopped chives. Artisanal and farm-house products are usually bought in specialty shops and market cheese stands. it is dessert. Most yogurt is industrial. Aged cheeses develop heady odors. Yaourt or yogourt (yogurt) originated near the Black Sea and the Caucasus. Some types. and chicory coffee. and firm. a plate of two or three or more cheeses is passed around. akin to sour cream. also chicory. Any goat milk cheese. to be eaten with bread and wine. the appreciation of cheese is so highly developed that cheese is eaten as a course all its own in a full meal. Fromage blanc is eaten as a sweet or a savory. It has numerous uses in cooking. Most names for cheese refer to the place of origin. the better it tastes. or to replace the cheese course. Cheese Fromage (cheese). like wine and bread. Sprinkled with sugar and served with fruit. for a snack. The flat-topped pyramid with a flower of blue mold on the outside is Pouligny-Saint-Pierre. Cream is beaten into crème Chantilly (whipped cream) and added to soups. were already attested in Roman Gaul. or aged. crumbly. Fromage blanc is not technically cheese. whether very young and moist. humorous reference to its shape. such as hard Cantal and blue-veined Roquefort. Factory produced cheeses are available in supermarkets. People like to joke that the higher a cheese smells. Yogurt has been widely eaten in France only since the 1960s. but crottin (a horse or sheep dropping) is an earthy. This is often true. Cheese was vital to store milk. A dollop garnishes desserts made with slightly acidic cooked fruits and cakes that are on the dry side. Goat cheese in a small round disk is called Cabécou. It is the last savory course. but simply milk that has been curdled. it is the cheese course or the basis of a light lunch. and sauces. purées of vegetables and potatoes. In cooking. Today. milk is added to soups. . is a chèvre.56 Food Culture in France drinks: café au lait (coffee with milk) and hot chocolate. made of sheep’s milk. The tiny round Crottin de Chavignol is named after the Loire village. and some of the worst olfactory offenders are quite mild in flavor. is synonymous with France. sauces.

is 75 percent fat. which can be eaten quite dry. and Cantal. Pont-l’Évêque. which becomes practically liquid when ripe and is eaten with a spoon. The family of hard cheeses that includes Gruyère de Comté and Emmental are aged from curds that have gone through an additional cooking process to make them firmer and dryer. which people eat with a sprinkling of caraway seeds. Mild. Semisoft cow milk cheeses with white mold rinds are fromages à croûte fleurie. Grated hard cheese is sprinkled on dishes that are browned in the oven.Major Foods and Ingredients 57 Master cheese maker and affineur (specialist in aging cheese) Hervé Mons with goat milk cheeses. creamy Savarin. Courtesy of Christian Verdet/regard public-unpact. Pressed cheeses for slicing include sweet-pungent Morbier. the rind is eaten. and Munster. and colleagues in Saint-Haon-le-Châtel. but it must be trimmed off the firm cheeses. named for the food-writer and gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. the square Carré de l’Est. and Saint-Marcellin. Tomme de Savoie. Blue mold or blue veined cheeses include the Bleus d’Auvergne. goats. Red mold cheeses with washed rinds include Époisses. which has a blue-gray layer of wood ash across the middle. These include Brie de Meaux. For the softer cheeses. its more recently invented relative Camembert. and Roquefort. such as potatoes au gratin and the onion soup famously served at Les . Bleu des Causses.

Place the sheets in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Since about 700 B. Use a pastry bag to squeeze the batter into rings. Many herbs are native to Europe if not to French territory. place the water. and continue to cook until the batter thickens. Mix in the 2/3 cup of grated cheese..58 Food Culture in France Halles marketplace in Paris. The term spice usually refers to dried bark. The traditional and regional dishes are richly flavored. Along with proverbs about bread and wine. but they are not spicy.E. leaves the side of the pan. salt flats). Beat in the eggs. and berries.C. To make the pâte à choux (puff paste). Return the pan to low heat. roots. butter. sel (salt) and poivre (pepper) are the most basic spices in French cooking. and stir it into the liquid. flavor. . Serve warm or prick the bottoms with a skewer or sharp-pointed knife to allow the steam to escape and cool on a wire rack. Sprinkle the additional 1/3 cup of grated cheese on the puffs. Add the flour. and coheres into a ball. thanks in part to the addition of herbs and spices. Remove the pan once again from the heat. Grated cheese flavors the light. using a wooden spoon. making sure each egg is absorbed before adding the next one. As in many cuisines. or else use two tablespoons to drop the batter like cookies onto ungreased cookie sheets. HERBS. and salt in a saucepan. salt has been harvested from Breton palus or paludes (marshes. until the gougères are golden brown and puffy. Spices are often–although not always–of exotic provenance. Atlantic salt is harvested from the Île de Ré and the Guérande peninsula. remove the pan from the heat. proverbs about salt abound in France as elsewhere. An herb is usually a leaf. buds. and color of foods. SPICES. savory puffs called gougères often served as an appetizer. Burgundian Baked Cheese Puffs (Gougères) • 1 cup water • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter • pinch salt • 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour • 4 large eggs • 2/3 cup plus an additional 1/3 cup grated Gruyère cheese Preheat the oven to 425° F. and bring to the boiling point. AND CONDIMENTS FOR SAVORY COOKING Most any home cook draws judiciously on a selection of mild épices (spices) and herbes (herbs) to vary the texture. When the butter has melted completely. one at a time.

In the Southwest. It goes into sauces including vinaigrette (oil and vinegar dressing). salad dressings. whose heat sets off the fruit. is ubiquitous in the kitchen and on the table. pickles. Removing the external coating of black peppercorns leaves white pepper. Most vinaigre (vinegar. sausages. and omelets. Quatre épices (four spices) is a standard combination of white pepper. and it is used this way in charcuterie. especially any made with fish. Dishes labeled à la diable (deviled) are seasoned with mustard. sweet summer fruits such as figs and pears are cooked with pepper. Rustic. The seeds are crushed or ground. Vinegar is a key condiment and cooking ingredient. like vinegar. Whole black peppercorns stud dried sausages. cold cuts. Green peppercorns are picked before they are ripe. cinnamon or dried ground ginger. Muscat (nutmeg) and macis (mace) are added to cooked vegetables and sweet egg dishes such as custards. then blended with spices and vinegar to form a pungent mixture. then pickled in brine to avoid discoloration. is also used. Cider vinegar. and glazes and dressings for oven-bound dishes such as rabbit or chicken. It imparts a yellow-orange color and a clean. and marinades.Major Foods and Ingredients 59 and Mediterranean salt comes from Aigues-Mortes. Common refined fleur de sel (kitchen salt) is what most people keep on hand for cooking and for table use. or a sausage may be coated with a crunchy hot layer of cracked peppercorns. the dried stigmas and styles (female organs) from the Crocus sativus. This is used in light-colored dishes such as mashed potatoes and cream sauces. Coarser sea salts still gray from the presence of marine minerals or flecked with seaweed add a decorative touch along with their special flavors to finished dishes. Bright red threads of safran (saffron). grainy. made by the same process. It serves as a cooking medium and to deglaze the pan for meat and fish sauces. warm flavor. Moutarde (mustard). nutmeg. salt was vital to preserve meat. Clou de girofle (clove) spices winter fruit compotes. from vin aigre. Saffron adds color to egg glazes for pastry and to butter used in fish and chicken dishes. sour wine) is made from wine that is fermented so that the alcohol converts to acetic acid. They balance rich elements such as butter or cream to make sauces for meats. and it is made from hotter red-brown seeds. Mustard is a condiment for boiled meats. is sprinkled into fish soups and added to baked goods. and cloves that flavors pâtés and meat dishes. old-style mustard has in it brownish bits of hull as well as crushed seed. . Historically. White pepper is more common in the kitchen than on the eating table. Smooth Dijon mustard is made from milder yellow seeds. It flavors sauces.

associated with German and Scandinavian cooking. the flat-leaf variety is typical in the South. SHALLOTS. tarragon. go into omelets. this and a salad of braised leeks with vinaigrette dressing are . and genièvre (juniper berry) flavors game and pork. marjolaine (marjoram). Ail (garlic) is roasted. It flavors roasts and chops as well as chicken destined for baking. and olive oil. Basil is the primary flavor. Tarragon flavors lamb and chicken and goes into sauces. soft. thym (thyme). Herbes de Provence is a mixture of dried herbs that may include rosemary. Anis (anise seed). Persillade is finely chopped parsley and either shallots or garlic added to a hot dish just before the cooking is done. sauces. Minced échalottes (shallots) add zest to green salads. native to southern Europe. and sometimes sarriette (savory) and romarin (rosemary). Fines herbes. in pistou (pesto) for stirring into vegetable and bean soups. ONIONS. salt. and they are the principal ingredient in soupe à l’ognion (onion soup). Along with tomatoes and olive oil. GARLIC. and whole unpeeled gousses (garlic cloves) accompany chicken roasting in the oven. composed of fresh minced persille (parsley). parsley is essential in cooking and as a raw garnish. flavored with mashed. and thyme is used in fish dishes. then dropped into broths. AND LEEKS The Allium genus is all-important for French cooking. and lavande (lavender). is used in pickling and is served with Munster cheese. Chopped sautéed oignons (onions) combine with carrot and celery as the basis for many dishes. savory. Standard combinations of herbs flavor many dishes. cerfeuil (chervil). and ciboulette (chives). garlic is ubiquitous in the cooking of the South. and it is added to southern sauces with a tomato base. it tops Provençal pissaladière (onion pizza).60 Food Culture in France Carvi (caraway seed). Poireaux (leeks) flavor soups and sometimes appear in a bouquet garni used for soup. and caramelized makes confit or savory jam that accompanies meat dishes. Vichyssoise is leek and potato soup. basilique (basil). estragon (tarragon). salted anchovies. By itself. poaching liquids. Bouquet garni includes sprigs of parsley. and pots of vegetables to lend flavor in cooking. Cooking onions very slowly until they are sweet. salad dressings. Sauge (sage) flavors pork and game. thyme. and herbed mayonnaise. A feuille de laurier (bay leaf) is added to marinades and to pots of beans and lentils. Coriandre (coriander seed) is paired with meat. is the principal flavoring for pastis and is used in fish dishes and southern pastries. laurier (bay leaf). The herbs are tied together. along with crushed garlic. Curly-leaf parsley appears in the North.

Later. and chickpeas. GRAINS. Semolina flour (from hard wheat) and water make a paste that traditionally was rubbed between the hands into tiny balls. coriander. is added at table as a sauce. Sweet couscous prepared . but the shapes borrow from the Italian traditions.Major Foods and Ingredients 61 Braised leeks accompany poached fish. greens. crushed garlic. Ciboulette (chive) is used both raw and cooked. Clermont-Ferrand. and Marseille. Couscous. RICE. The exception is Alsatian nouilles (egg noodles). Spicy Tunisian harissa (a paste of red pepper. A typical Moroccan couscous combines lamb. carrots. and Algeria. Couscous steams in the fragrant vapors coming up off a stew whose ingredients vary: lamb. the stew is then served with the steamed pasta. pumpkin. PASTA. AND POTATOES Of Italian origin. Pasta and noodles are most often boiled and eaten as a side dish for meats. has become a typical dish. the most common preparations.9 Today. seafood. more or less diluted with hot water or broth. pâtes (pasta) seem to have been made in France by northern Jews as early as the eleventh century and in Provence within the next 200 years. Morocco. and olive oil). most pâtes eaten in France are made within the country. turnips. Courtesy of Philippe Bornier. pasta were made using hard or durum wheat flour in Paris. eaten in the former colonies of Tunisia. cumin. and vegetables are all common components. onions. as an herb. an innovation from the Rhineland. fish.

a powder ground from the grain. such as spice breads. formerly part of the Italian Piedmont. thickens soups and boiled dishes. cider. and melted butter to make a . milk. Orge (barley). or bulgur. borrows the Italian tradition of making polente (polenta) out of cornmeal. scallions. and flavorings such as rosewater is a festive dessert. tomato. and canned corn added to cold salads. Seigle (rye) is used in bread-making and in a few sweet baked goods. New World maïs (corn) has been adopted in a very limited fashion. as corn is still thought of primarily as animal fodder. melted Mix or pulse to blend together in a blender or food processor the flours and salt. is now little used in cooking. raisins. Add eggs. and related preparations appear in Basque cooking. used in making ale and then beer. Nice. More interestingly. chopped parsley. water. the Lebanese salad with olive oil. and people do steam it alone (without making the stew) to eat as they would pasta of Italian origin. Cracked wheat. is the key ingredient for the dark crêpes associated with that region. Rice consumption has more than tripled since the 1970s. and now nearly all is imported. is made into tabbouleh. Long-grained rice is used in cold salads and in side dishes for meat. cultivated in Brittany. Riz (rice) was cultivated in the wet Camargue region from the seventeenth century through the mid-twentieth century. Blé noir or sarrasin (buckwheat). Shortgrained or Arborio rices are made into desserts such as gâteau de riz (rice cake) and puddings. lemon juice. although cream of barley. Épeautre (spelt) goes into Provenç al soups. Many people have a couscoussier or couscous steamer in their home kitchens. Dried industrial couscous is available. The word couscous refers both to the pasta and to the finished dish. and spices. Breton Buckwheat Crêpes (Galettes bretonnes or galettes de sarrasin) • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour • 1 cup all-purpose flour • pinch salt • 4 large eggs • 1 1/4 cups apple cider • 1 1/4 cups milk • 1/4 cup water • 1/4 cup unsalted butter. cucumber.62 Food Culture in France with nuts. Corn is eaten as flakes in cereal. and it has come back into fashion among bakers of organic and whole-grain breads.

Turn the crêpe out flat onto a plate or board.Major Foods and Ingredients thin batter. Purée de pommes de terre (mashed potatoes) is served as a side dish Peeling potatoes for cooking. Briefly blend or mix the batter once more. Potatoes are sliced and baked. Cook about a minute.. Courtesy of Hervé Depoil. the peel is not eaten. until the crêpe is brown on the bottom and at the edges and set firm in the middle.” i. with a filling or plain. they were viewed with great suspicion. or refrigerate overnight.e. sautéed. Heat a crêpe pan or large flat saucepan until very hot. but always removed before cooking or just before serving. Now it is difficult to imagine French cooking without them. No matter what the preparation. Pommes frites (French fries or fried potatoes) are popular. Bintje. Makes about 15 crêpes. Swirl the pan to spread the batter over the bottom of the pan and up its sides (if using a crêpe pan). pan-fried. Most potatoes presently cultivated and eaten in France are the BF 15. Fold it in quarters or turn in the edges to make a square. Serve hot. and Ratte varieties. 63 When exotic New World pommes de terre (“earth apples. then pour in batter to thinly coat the pan (about 1/3 cup of batter for a 12-inch pan). . Boiled or steamed potatoes are eaten in salads or tossed with butter. Brush lightly with butter. potatoes) were first introduced. and added to stews and soups. covered. Let the batter stand for one hour.

prepared for cooking. Tiny. Haricots blancs. and lingots (dried white beans) combine with meat in rich stews such as garbure and cassoulet and marry well with cream and tomatoes. Lentils and split peas are often combined with pork. Potatoes are a mainstay of student cafeterias and other industrial restaurants. where they are usually bought frozen and already peeled. larger. Today. sausages. Pois chiches (chickpeas) and fèves (fava beans) were particularly important in the southern regions. Chickpeas go into couscous and salads. Courtesy of Philippe Bornier.64 Food Culture in France and may be further elaborated into fried croquettes (puffs). cocos. Pulses are the edible seeds of pod-bearing plants cultivated for food. or bacon for flavor. . flatter. pale green and yellow varieties go into soups and purées. or dried in powder for purée. Eaten in combination with grain. Fresh green and white beans at the Place des Halles market in Dijon. whose flavorful juices they absorb. firm. Dried green beans called haricots verts and chevriers go with lamb. sliced. pulses usually accompany meat or fish as a separate course or side dish. légumes à gousses (pulses) were staples. PULSES In the past. peas and beans provide complete proteins that contribute to a healthy diet with little meat or none at all. green Puys lentils are used in salads and served with salmon.

Greens such as sour oseille (sorrel) and spicy dark green cresson (watercress) add color and flavor to soups and sauces. added to soups and stews. sorrel lends its lemony tang to eggs and fish. associated with Alsatian cooking. such as braised with lettuce and peas. In the sweet version of tourte aux blettes (chard tart). Small red and white radis (radishes) are dipped in salt and eaten raw along with bread and butter. The giant. flowers. carrots form a vegetable course. young leaves appear in salads. They also appear in some cooked dishes. pine nuts. The composed salads often include cooked vegetables and pieces of cheese or meat. as well. Grated betteraves (beets) also appear served in discrete. hairy.Major Foods and Ingredients 65 VEGETABLES The term légume (vegetable) as used in everyday speech covers several botanical groups: roots. Salsify or oyster plant (salsifis) is cooked with butter. rather than raw. Narrowly sliced into a chiffonnade (ribbons). The bulbous. although very small. dressed with mustard vinaigrette or with cream. leaves. braised in milk. and served with slices of salty dry ham. and raisins as in other areas of the Mediterranean. from . the outer rind is trimmed. Vegetables are eaten in savory preparations as side dishes and as individual courses of a main meal. cooked pulses such as lentils tossed with vinaigrette and some sliced onion. and the vegetable is then cut into chunks. Provence’s characteristic vegetable is chard. except when grated and dressed as part of a platter of crudités (composed salad of raw vegetables—a colorful mosaic). Raw celery root is grated. and made into a purée or soup. Épinards (spinach) are usually served cooked. Among the root vegetables. Curly-leafed chou de Savoie or chou frisé (Savoy cabbage) is stuffed. which is often cooked with olive oil. Once it is scrubbed under running water. or puréed. rhizomes. Steamed. individually dressed mounds on the plate of crudités. sometimes garnished with morsels of hot lard. and even fruits such as the tomate (tomato). forbidding-looking céleri-rave (celery root or celeriac) is appreciated for its warm celery flavor and versatility. and braised. Horseradish also garnishes boiled meat dishes like pot-au-feu. carottes (carrots) are eaten cooked. tender. tempestuous raifort (horseradish) is grated and tempered with crème fraîche or unsweetened whipped cream as a garnish for smoked fish. cream. Chou (white cabbage) is eaten salted or pickled as choucroute (sauerkraut). or meat juice from whatever it will accompany. They feature in sturdy winter soups and stews to which navets (turnips) are usually added. which may be a plain tossed lettuce mixture. and they are prominent in soups and stews. The French are masters of the salad. as well. or a salade composée “composed” from whatever is at hand and attractively arranged on a flat plate. mashed.

Bibb-type lettuce. They are boiled in salted water. and anchovy. braised. mâche (corn salad or lamb’s lettuce). when their cool crunch refreshes the palate. Fresh laitues (lettuces) mean green salad to most people. Romaine. eggs. Petits-pois (fresh green peas) came into fashion in the seventeenth century and have remained popular ever since. pale yellow endives (Belgian endive). Most often the whole vegetable is steamed or blanched and served hot under a béchamel sauce with ham. powdered sugar. composed salads appear now on restaurant menus as first courses or on full-sized plates as a main dish. or French beans) are a favorite vegetable across the country. Green salads are served after the main dish in a full meal. minced garlic. string beans. and a dash of Parmesan cheese make a custard that balances the flavor and texture of the vegetable. or in a blanc or white cooking liquid consisting of boiling water and a bit of flour. however. Stalky cardes (cardoons) are cooked like artichoke hearts. Fennel stalks and leaves are . as in combination with peas. Fleshy fenouil (fennel bulb) is sliced raw to eat with lemon or with a full-fledged dressing for a salad. The sweet hearts are braised in water. Tiny artichauts (artichokes) are eaten raw with salt. alongside boiled meats. A head of lettuce is often referred to simply as une salade (a salad). France is the biggest producer in the world of compact. A few classic preparations call for cooked or braised lettuce. it is most often eaten raw. or cornette (chicory or curly endive). Céleri (celery) is blanched. seeded. then dressed with a rich sauce such as hollandaise (based on butter and egg yolks) or served à la bagna cauda. and it is an ingredient in some tomato sauces. then add mint and butter or lettuce and cream. It is dressed with olive oil and lemon in a salade grècque (Greek salad) with tomatoes or else sauced with cream and chives or mint. grated apple.66 Food Culture in France Nice. and peppery roquette (rocket or arugula). and sliced. or green leaf lettuce is tossed with oil-and-vinegar dressing that may be emulsified with mustard or flavored with a sliver of garlic or a spoonful of minced shallot. then served with butter alongside roasted or grilled meat. larger ones are cooked whole then served with a vinaigrette or melted butter and lemon as a sauce for dipping the leaves. and olive oil. lemon juice. Other popular salad greens include scarole. It is also braised or blanched to be eaten cooked. Classic simple preparations flavor the peas with a small quantity of sugar. Haricots verts (fresh green beans. Raw endive leaves add a silky crunch to salad. Classical cooking gives methods for cooking concombre (cucumber). escarole. lemon. and served with tomato sauce or meat marrow. with the Provenç al dressing of olive oil. For plain green salad. They combine with other vegetables in composed salads and appear in soups and purées.

Cooked chou-fleur (cauliflower) appears boiled or steamed in composed salads. or with vinaigrette dressing. and usually requires peeling.Major Foods and Ingredients 67 Everyday vegetables in inviting profusion: lettuce. is preferred over green. Peppers and tomatoes are New World plants that were brought back to Europe in the late Renaissance. The vegetable is thick. rice. All four are eaten stuffed with meat. The aubergine (eggplant). but it has a mild flavor. Courtesy of Philippe Bornier. Zucchini traveled from Italy into France. White asperge (asparagus). placed under fish that is grilling to give it flavor. Tomato halves sprinkled . but all flourish in the warm. or breadcrumbs. Eggplant is roasted then diced into cold salads. tomate (tomato). None are native. poivron (bell pepper). sometimes woody toward the bottom. the florettes are fried. Chou-fleur d’Italie or broccoli (broccoli) made its way to France from Italy and is still somewhat less common than cauliflower. and cauliflower at market. cucumbers. dry Mediterranean climate of the South. It is usually converted to purée or made into a cream soup. carrots. grown under mounds to avoid exposure to light. Zucchini puréed with cream and butter is a side dish that is much appreciated in the summer. Asparagus are steamed or boiled. most often it is par-boiled then baked au gratin with milk or cream and grated cheese. Indian eggplant was introduced to Spain during the Middle Ages by the Moors and from there made its way to Italy and France. often served with a creamy or eggy sauce such as hollandaise. and courgette (zucchini) are workhorses in the French kitchen.

68 Food Culture in France with herbs and bread crumbs and then baked to concentrate the flavors accompany meat. Return all the vegetables in the bowl back into the pan with the tomatoes. The quartet of vegetables is particularly associated with southern cooking. then sauté the sliced peppers for 5 minutes. Citrouille or potiron (pumpkin) is made into soups. then put in the eggplant. and smooth in texture (about 8 or 9 minutes). sliced into rounds • 2 green or red peppers. baked in the oven. The vegetables should be cooked through and tender. Cook until the eggplant is soft. Serve hot. and sliced • 1 eggplant (about 1 pound). Sauté the zucchini about 6 minutes until lightly browned. but not mushy. leaves stripped from the stems • 6 tablespoons chopped parsley • 8 tablespoons chopped basil • salt • ground black pepper Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over moderate heat. Add to the bowl with the other vegetables. cold. cut into 1-inch cubes • 2 pounds tomatoes. transfer to a large bowl. Using a slotted spoon. thyme and half the parsley. and transfer to the bowl. and sauté the onion and garlic about 3 minutes. Take the pan off the heat. Summer Vegetable Stew (Ratatouille) • 7 tablespoons olive oil • 1 pound zucchini and/or yellow crookneck squash. Simmer for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. peeled peppers are made into cold salads. and used in couscous. Occasionally it is co-opted for service in egg desserts such as pumpkin flan or pumpkin crème brûlée. sautéed in butter. Stir to prevent the eggplant from sticking to the pan. as in the summer stew ratatouille. Add the tomatoes. or at room temperature. Strips of roasted. stir gently to mix. and cook for 10 more minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of oil. . halved and seeded • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic • 6 sprigs thyme. watching carefully to prevent them from browning much. Stir in the rest of the parsley and the basil. Pour the last tablespoon of olive oil into the pan. membranes removed. light-colored. Add 3 tablespoons of oil to heat in the skillet. seeded.

fried. braised. FRUITS Fresh fruits are eaten out of hand for a snack and as a sweet course at the end of a meal. They are cooked into compotes and used to stuff pastries . they are quite expensive and fetch high prices on the market. truffes (truffles) grow wild in forested areas. and cream sauces for pasta. Truffles are especially associated with the Périgord. Truffles are so highly prized that they are called diamants noirs (black diamonds). golden chanterelles or girolles (chanterelles) do appear in markets.Major Foods and Ingredients 69 MUSHROOMS The fungi known as champignons (mushrooms) grow naturally in wooded areas or meadows. creamy color. they were also cultivated in caves and abandoned underground stone quarries. although the four-legged assistants must be prevented from eating their finds. Netted black morilles (morels) and dense. France is now the world’s third-largest producer of cultivated mushrooms. At best. pâtés. Truffles are so hard to spot that people train pigs and dogs to sniff them out. of the type called champignons de Paris or champignons blonds for their pale. usually underneath oak trees from which they derive carbonic nutrients and to which they give back mineral salts and other elements. Truffle hunters develop an eye for locating patches in forested areas and are notoriously secretive about this information. Bits of truffle steeped in high-quality oils impart their perfume to salads. long-stemmed. but mushrooms must be gathered under the supervision of an experienced person who can distinguish edible ones from poisonous varieties that look similar. Other varieties are gathered wild. Generous quantities of truffles feature in the old aristocratic cuisine and in contemporary elite restaurant cooking. shavings of black truffle are added to excellent effect to omelets. and put into soups. grilled. In the past. mineral flavor and a natural sweetness. Chicken roasted with slices of black truffle tucked under the skin is called demi-deuil (half-mourning) because of the dark appearance the truffles give the bird. dark. Mushrooming is popular in the countryside. Truffles All but impossible to cultivate. they have a rich. where the best ones grow. Eggs delicately scrambled over very low heat with black truffle is a typical treatment. Although they look like dark chunks of coal or earth. Mushrooms are sautéed. For modest budgets. baked. and they are often cooked in combination with cream and chicken.

Hard. poached. Pommes (apples) are the most popular fruit and account for approximately one-quarter of all fruit eaten. In the industrial context they are squeezed for juice and puréed or reduced to syrups used to sweeten and flavor yogurt. or cerises (cherries) are placed whole in bowls on the table after a meal in summer for dessert.70 Food Culture in France and fill tarts. and ice creams. the tart is turned upside-down to reveal the caramelized apples. a member of the knotgrass family. The trick is to eat the dessert straight out of the oven. Other fruits exotiques (“exotic” or tropical fruits) imported for sale in markets include mangoes and star-fruit. then arranged in a pan with a single layer of short crust on top. jewel-like groseilles (red currants) with the fingers. ices. purple-black pruneaux d’Agen (prunes) are a specialty of the Lot-et-Garonne region in the Southwest. myrtilles (blueberries)—are eaten fresh served in small bowls. cooked in syrup. they are usually served halved. caramelized by sautéing in sugar and butter. flavor yogurt. Poires (pears) are eaten raw. Cavaillon. to be eaten with a . and figs also appear in jams. and on flat cakes. otherwise the crust becomes soggy underneath the apples. Tarte Tatin or upside-down apple tart appears on restaurant dessert menus and is baked at home to end a festive dinner. pêches (peaches). The berries— fraises (strawberries). They are eaten raw in the late summer when they ripen. which is enjoyed as a Christmas sweet. Their juicy orange flesh is intensely sweet and flavorful. and people take up sprays of delicate. then pull the fruit right off the stem with their teeth. these fruits stuff pastries and top cakes. Its long. or baked in wine. sour coings (quinces). After baking. The most popular melons are the small green-skinned varieties known as Chantal. astringent stems are sliced. available in the fall. abricots (apricots). framboises (raspberries). Imported bananes are widely available in shops and nearly always eaten raw. preserves. and made into tarts and pastries. Apples are sliced into large pieces or quartered. pitted drupes such as nectarines (nectarines) and meltingly sweet brugnons (white nectarines). Prunes d’Ente and fat. Prunes (plums) came west to France with Crusaders returning from Syria. fleshy. Sweet apples such as the Golden Delicious are eaten out of hand. Raisins (grapes) are a late summer dessert. In recent years the New Zealand kiwi has become extremely popular and is now widely cultivated in France. Cooked. are cooked into compote. Soft-fleshed. These fruits rouges (“red fruits” or berries) also garnish tarts and cakes. Rhubarbe (rhubarb). ice cream. and form sauces that accompany pork or game. but most apples are transformed by cooking into pastries and desserts. red. is treated like the firm fruits. and Charentais. jellies. and candy. Green and black figues (figs) and grenades (pomegranates) with their ruby flesh have been cultivated for centuries in Provence. and pâte de coing (quince paste).

and they are served as dessert (instead of fruits) during the winter months. Compote is a simple dessert of fruits stewed in syrup or wine. frequently in combination with shrimp and crabs. Pamplemousses (grapefruit) are usually pressed into juice. Before modern refrigeration and freezing. say the French. however.Major Foods and Ingredients 71 spoon for a summer entrée. abricoter (“to apricot”) means to glaze a cake or tart with a coating of boiled. and veal. quinces. Avocats (avocadoes) are technically fruits. they are used in salads and soups. chicken. they are sometimes served peeled and sliced as a light first course. Most jam is industrial. It is prepared from fresh or dried fruits. raspberry. JAMS. Jam is ubiquitous on breakfast tables: strawberry. figs. making preserves ensured that one could eat fruits in some form during the cold winter months. prunes. such as apples. JELLIES. NUTS Dried Isère noix (walnuts. clear preserve from which all berry seeds or chunks of fruit have been strained off. with salads. Sweet-acid currant jelly is a traditional accompaniment to hot preparations of foie gras. est comme l’intelligence: moins on en a. the word also refers to nuts in general) are used in baking and confectionary and in savory cooking to garnish salads and hot dishes. or both. and with blue cheeses. but during the summer people macerate fruit in sugar overnight. AND COMPOTES La confiture. They pair with poultry and meat. A gelée (jelly) is a fine-textured. the more you spread it around). strained apricot preserves. Oranges (oranges) are the most common of the thickskinned citrus fruits. and cédrats (citrons) are candied for use in baking and confectionary. Sweet amandes (almonds) are in fact pit fruits related to . and raisins. Citrons verts (limes) are used in mixing drinks. plus on l’étale (Jam is like intelligence: the less you have. in cooking they have a special affinity for fish. then boil it down the next morning. Pastèque (watermelon) is popular during the summer in the South. apricot. Rowanberry and elderberry jellies and gooseberry jam are served with game to temper the headier flavors of the meat. Preserves have many uses in baking. and plum are popular flavors to spread on bread for a tartine. Citrons (lemons) are used in both savory and sweet preparations. The lovely sheen on strawberry tarts and other pastries in bakery windows is usually due to an apricot glaze. Containers of jewel-like preserves were often exchanged as gifts. jellies are also made from decoctions of lavender or from wine.

still-green shells are carved open with a sharp knife. they are called marrons glacés and are used in sweet preparations such as chestnut cream. with meats and in confectionary. they accompany an apéritif. and small. Contemporary bonbons. breakfast cereals. As in the United States. and a sweet flavor. working with sugar is an art in itself. Most chocolate is eaten in the form of the industrial milk chocolate bars available in every supermarket and grocery store. Candied in sugar syrup. SUGAR. Fresh nutmeats are pale white. worldwide it is second. France leads the European Union in the production of sugar from sugar beets. Tiny green pistaches (pistachios) are used like hazelnuts. if more modest. biscuits. colored. although in smaller quantities than in other European countries. Despite the prevalence of industrial candies. Today. Whole chestnuts go into stuffing for turkey and combine with cabbbage to make hearty winter braised dishes. HONEY. sugar is widely used in the food industry as an additive to fruit juices. fresh hazelnuts and almonds appear seasonally in markets. CHOCOLATE. Salted and left in their shells. Although most nuts are eaten dried. Pignons (pine nuts) are lightly toasted in a pan. The petits-fours or very small cakes known as calissons d’Aix are made of sweetened melon paste and egg white.72 Food Culture in France peaches. pastries. then strewn on salads and used as garnishes. perhaps into naturalistic forms such as roses and leaves. preserves. a milky moistness. hard sugar candies. Sugar is essential to chocolatiers or chocolate makers. then carved into the typical almond shape. Hard sugar candy is shaped in molds or else blown like glass from heavy syrup. Chocolate is widely consumed in France. in cooking they are often paired with trout. Noisettes (hazelnuts or filberts) garnish meat concoctions such as pâtés and are added to hard sausages. AND SWEETS Sucre (sugar) was long a luxury consumed by the affluent and considered a spice rather than a cooking staple or a food. are nonetheless exquisite. Berlingots and bêtises de Cambrai are both bonbons with a glasslike appearance typical for flavored. the tradition of artisanal confectionary is quite strong in France. Few confectioners today make the elaborate sugar sculptures that featured on aristocratic tables in the past. the pithy. and yogurt. The paste is glossed with hard white sugar icing. with a crisp texture. . When fresh. decorative boxes of hand-made candies such as chewy nougats (made with egg white) or nut pralines (in a crunchy sugar coating) are often given as gifts. Châtaignes (chestnuts) are ground into flour that is used to make bread and cakes.

which are croissants filled with chocolate. Artisanal chocolate makers produce bonbons stuffed with fruits or creams. and of higher quality than the overly sweetened and less saturated mixtures. Honey from meadow flowers and crop fields is the most common. During the late Middle Ages. and thyme honey are harvested in the South and have delicate. At breakfast honey is eaten like jam—spread on buttered bread or spooned over plain yogurt for flavor and sweetness. according to the inspiration of the confectioner. These range from simple. it has become fashionable for cafés to serve a small square of chocolate with their coffees. a basic layer cake with fruits. and it is a traditional ingredient in ginger cakes. to complex confections made only by pâtissiers. connoisseurs seek out dark chocolate with a significant cocoa content (at least 50 percent). brioche. and the Vosges. Pains au chocolat. the pastry professionals. Honey gives pain d’épices (spice cake) from Dijon its characteristic flavor and dark color. Viennoiseries or fine pastries such as chaussons de pomme or baked apple turnovers. the result of promotional efforts on the part of chocolate manufacturers. As in the United States. Metz. buttery croissants are eaten at breakfast along with a bowl of coffee or hot chocolate. and flaky. and bees were also important as a source of wax to make the votive candles lit in churches. flavored with liquors or spices.Major Foods and Ingredients 73 In recent years. fermented honey drinks were made in Lorraine. Lavender honey. mixed with nuts. pine honey. distinctive flavors. Miel (honey) has been a familiar if not widely used sweetener since Celtic and Roman times. better tasting. For a special occasion such as a weekend dinner or a birthday celebration. viewed as more natural. homemade preparations. Residents of rural areas and also many suburban dwellers keep a hive in the garden and collect their own honey. home cooks craft a simple chocolate or pound cake. raisin-filled spirals. Apiculture or the cultivation of bees for honey is a common hobby that recalls the rural agricultural life of the recent past. are a favorite with children. the whole garnished with . a Lyon specialty is the cocoa-dusted hérisson or hedgehog. After a festive meal. desserts such as oeufs à la neige or île flottante (eggs in snow or floating island: egg whites poached in milk and served on crème anglaise or thin custard. PASTRIES AND DESSERTS One of the many seductions of France is the large range of imaginative desserts and pâtisseries (pastries). Chocolats come in imaginative shapes. orange flower honey. a box of elegant chocolates may be passed around the table as a last morsel to follow coffee. so-called for its spiky appearance.

people buy cones at street stands and ice cream shops. strawberry. Small puff pastry balls filled with cream. thinly sliced fruit. mousse au chocolat (chocolate mousse). but far more elaborate classic confections are widely available in the pastry shops. to refresh the palate. fruit purée as sauce. sabayon (zabaglione. a tiny quantity of sorbet is served between courses of a meal. In formal settings.e. A Paris-Brest. layers puff pastry with almond and hazelnut cream. flavors are based on local fruits. Served in a large.. It contains little cream. it is usually meant to be shared by two people. nuts. a thin biscuit is soaked in coffee syrup. is not terribly sweet. For an elaborate dinner. milk. During the summer. are summer flavors. The family of frothy cakes that includes the Roussillon and the Framboisine are made from layers of gelées. and nut creams on a light sponge cake. and pistachio are common. ICE CREAM AND SORBET Ices and ice creams can be traced to ancient China and were eaten at the court of Alexander the Great and by the Emperor Nero during the first century. A bombe is ice cream molded into a round shape. being closer to an Italian gelato. or a fruit tart. which is sweet-sour. cooling. and restaurants feature coupes de glace and bombes on the menu for dessert. recognizable from the powdered sugar and almonds that decorate the top. ices made their way to France via Italy.” i. and raspberry. Professionally made tarts lined with pastry cream or almond cream and topped with fruits are perennial favorites. a cake or tart will be bought from a pâtissier. . mango and passion fruit. and garnished with flavored whipped cream or custard sauce make a SaintHonoré. bowl-shaped glass coupe (goblet). herbs. and the whole is iced with chocolate. rosemary. or produce. Vanilla and chocolate are favorite flavors. Sorbets and granités or true ices made without any cream. In the South. These cakes are finished with a fruit glaze or jelly to give the outside a transparently colorful liquid sheen. To make an Opéra. and is slightly granular in texture. ice cream) differs from American ice cream. or eggs are appreciated as light. such as lavender. and honey. invented in 1954 in Paris in honor of the Palais Garnier opera house. A coupe is an oversized concoction garnished with fruits. French glace (“ice. and a crisp cookie. then similarly garnished with sauces and fruits. which soaks up the flavors and colors of the spreads.74 Food Culture in France caramel). arranged in a circle. a frothy egg cream whisked over a double boiler and flavored with sweet wine such as Muscat). hazelnut. During the seventeenth century. and refreshing desserts. butter cream and chocolate cream are spread on alternate layers.

Green sweet-sour angelica stems. Until the midtwentieth century. France is the third largest purchaser of coffee beans in the world. Chicory is naturally nutty and sweet in flavor and lacks the bitterness and caffeine of coffee. In the past. A cup of tea contains far less caffeine than a cup of coffee. and tea may offer other health benefits. brewed black and green teas were associated with elegant. its roasted. ground roots are sold in powders or granules that resemble instant coffee and may be dissolved in hot milk. violette (violet) flavors candy and black tea. Throughout the day and after lunch and dinner. Coffee drunk at mid-morning or in the late afternoon is a pick-me-up. Mint is used primarily for tisane and as a flavor for syrups drunk over ice. coffee refreshes the palette. which used to be drunk as an inexpensive. and flower flavors are primarily associated with sweet dishes. This is simply called un café (a coffee) or a petit noir. after the United States and Germany. TEA. connoisseurs appreciate the delicate variety of flavors. in demitasse cups. The result is a strong. The use of eau de fleur d’oranger (orange flower water) and eau de rose (rose water) in pastry-making in the South reflects a Middle Eastern influence that came via Spain with the Moors. AND HOT CHOCOLATE Nearly everybody drinks café (coffee). most blossoms used in perfumes and flavorings are imported from India and Asia. COFFEE. It is drunk at breakfast from the same kind of bowls that adults use for café au lait. hot milk with strong coffee. domestically produced substitute for coffee. Dark roasted Robusta or Arabica beans are used. spice. taken in the past as medicine. Vanille (vanilla) is a staple of bakers. people drink small cups of black coffee. Orange flower is the distinctive flavor in the sweet version of the yeasted pastries called fougaces. less frequently hot water. tea has gained popularity as a breakfast drink. Café au lait. This is due in part to health concerns. TISANES. Children may also be given bowls of chicorée (chicory). rich-tasting beverage. Chicory is a green related to endive. Chocolat or hot chocolate is a popular beverage among children. today. similar to Italian espresso.Major Foods and Ingredients 75 HERBS AND FLOWERS USED AS SWEET FLAVORINGS Some herb. as well. are candied by repeated dipping into sugar syrup and then carved into attractive shapes. light afternoon refreshment. sipped after the varied flavors of a meal. . the perfume industry centered in Grasse also supplied cooks. and whole violet flowers candied in sugar garnish cakes and pastries. In recent years. is drunk at breakfast. and the coffee is brewed with relatively little water.

Orgeat is barley syrup. Grenadine (pomegranate) and cassis (black currant) are well-loved flavors. orange-shaped bottle. easily spotted in its squat. despite its name.76 Food Culture in France A tisane or infusion is a made from a dried flower or herb such as verveine (verbena). potassium. giving the false impression (shared by many of the French) that tap water is never drunk. tap water is the most commonly drunk liquid in France10 and may safely be consumed throughout the country. heavily concentrated syrup with a distinctive fruit or herbal flavor is mixed with water to make a refreshing drink. particularly in the South. Contrex. Liter-sized bottles of water are available at grocery stores and corner stores. Sodas and syrups are not drunk with meals. guimauve (mallow). and sodium are other common mineral elements in spring waters. Waters with high mineral contents are appreciated for their healthful properties. The flavors of spring waters vary according to their mineral content (or the lack thereof) indicated on the bottle label. although sometimes it is based on almonds. WATER Spring waters are heavily marketed. or menthe (mint) steeped in hot water. A small quantity of thick. and Vatel are popular. Fluorine. During meals. such as calcium for bone health. In fact. and they are often ordered in cafés.11 General preference runs to drinking water that is cool or room temperature. They are given to the sick. and other imported beverages are easy to find. Still waters from springs at Evian. along with a few French sodas. Infusions are taken before bed or as an after-dinner hot drink instead of coffee. The most distinctive is Orangina. SODA AND SYRUPS Soda is everywhere available. Some small towns. More typical than soda are sirops (syrups). Beloved by children and popular with people of all ages during the summer. but as a refreshing beverage for the late afternoon. so that glasses may conveniently be refilled. and the various decoctions are appreciated for their medicinal properties. Coke. Natural or added carbonation is responsible for the bubbles in sparkling mineral waters. such as Badoit and Perrier. still have public fountains that antedate the installation in homes of filtered running water. une menthe à l’eau— green mint syrup and water—is cooling in hot weather. Fanta. a pitcher or carafe of tap water or a bottle of spring water is placed on the table. not cold or iced. although it is not consumed on the same scale as in the United States. sweet. Volvic. .

beer was an important source of food calories for northern Europeans. Pastis. Absinthe is quite bitter and has to be sweetened with a cube of sugar. The hops give the characteristic bitter flavor and act as a natural preservative. For a bubbly red Monaco. making true bière (beer).5 percent alcohol by volume). Since the sixteenth century. there it rivals wine in importance. and desserts and are f lambéed for a dramatic presentation. Pernod and other anise liqueurs became popular in the nineteenth century. La fée verte (the green fairy) was so called for the milky green color it assumes when mixed with water. beer is an ingredient in the beef stew carbonade and in some fish stews. Cider is consumed on a much smaller scale than wine or beer. germinated barley that has been fermented with yeast and water. Liqueurs have been manufactured in France since the distilling process was brought back from the Middle East during the Crusades. A panaché is a summer drink made of beer mixed with lemonade. or toasted. Most distilled liqueurs were originally concocted as medicines. Today. In cooking. BRANDIES AND LIQUEURS Eaux-de-vie (fortified alcohols or distilled liqueurs) are drunk as apéritifs and digestifs (before. in the countryside of the Northwest. and the Maine. and the government banned the sale of absinthe . Most is drunk near where it is made. Cidre (cider) in France is what Americans call hard cider. when they were marketed as a substitute for absinthe (absinthe). the bubbly fermented apple juice that is mildly alcoholic (4. produce most of the French beers. when new varieties of apples and cultivation techniques were brought from Spain. also flavored with anise and fennel. apples and cider have been typical of Normandy. Excessive consumption and bad quality mixtures produced unfortunate effects.and after-dinner drinks) and have many uses in cooking.Major Foods and Ingredients 77 BEER AND CIDER Cervoise (ale) antedates wine in France and can be traced back to the Gauls. an ancient tonic that is also potentially toxic. and beer consumption is heaviest in this region and along the Belgian border. not to mention for its magical transformative powers. such as Kronenbourg and Météor. Ale is malt. a handful of industrial breweries in Alsace. stewed dishes. a shot of grenadine syrup is added. Brittany. They flavor sauces. The problem was that it contained wormwood (Artemesia absinthium). For centuries. By far the most popular liqueur is anise-flavored pastis. people had begun to add medicinal hop blossoms to ale. By the end of the eighth century.

” and “Le vin des amants. 76–81. Unlike its lethal ancestor. and oats. Conveniently.78 Food Culture in France in 1915. pastis and other anise mixtures were available. the green drink that results is a perroquet (parrot). straight-sided glass. by commercial distillers. barley. Vermouth is based on grapes. “L’Âme du vin.” “Le vin des chiffoniers. pastis is regarded as having a beneficial effect on health.” “Le vin de l’assassin. The bitter flavor of Suze. Bright yellow or green Chartreuse was developed by a Carthusian sect. classic Cognac is the most famous grape brandy. un Martini in France is a before-dinner glass of herbflavored vermouth. Most liquors draw their distinctive flavor from an herb. but owes its flavor to a strong infusion of juniper berries. NOTES 1. known in this circumstance as a trou normand. for instance. people still concoct their own brandies by soaking fruits such as pears or plums in a neutrally flavored alcohol. but flavored with herbs and spices. Adding grenadine makes a pink-red tomate or “tomato. In the countryside. Most of the herbal liqueurs have monastic origins. however. Calvados or apple brandy is beloved in the apple-growing regions of Normandy. Among after-dinner drinks. opens up a “hole” (trou) so that you can eat more. in Charles Baudelaire. Pastis-and-water is the basis for a handful of simple. 14. pastis turns a light milky yellow when mixed with water. Gin is based on rye. originally from French-speaking Switzerland. l’heure du pastis—time for a sociable pastis—is practically any hour of the day: before lunch. Oeuvres complètes (Paris: Robert Laffont. . 2. root. where gardens with fruit trees are common. 1808). Orange-flavored Cointreau and Grand-Marnier were invented in the mid–nineteenth century. 1980). A clear light brown by itself. Suze is drunk over ice and mixed with sparkling water from a tall. popular cocktails. In the Midi. Le Manuel des Amphitryons (Paris: Cappelle et Renand. notably by soothing the stomach and intestines. before dinner. to promote digestion and help eaters make their way through a particularly rich repast.” Les Fleurs du mal (1857). in the late afternoon. A shot of Calvados is sometimes drunk between courses during a meal. or fruit. Mixed with mint syrup. It is drunk mixed with chilled water. not the American mixed drink. comes from gentian roots that have soaked in eau-de-vie. The theory goes that the small glass of apple brandy.” “Le vin du solitaire.” The addition of barley syrup gives a Mauresque or Morisco. it is a mark of respect and a gesture of friendship to offer a guest a glass of house-made brandy. as the monks concocted them for use as medicines. Grimod de la Reynière. narrow.

10. 179. Histoire sociale et culturelle du vin (Paris: Larousse-Bordas. “Et le beurre conquit la France.’” Le Monde (May 24. Antony Shugaar (New York: Columbia University Press. preface by Pierre Troisgros (Paris: BPI. Jean-Louis Flandrin. Silvano Serventi. 2002). 1990). . 9. “L’huile d’olive. 111. Didier Nourrisson. 2006). 16. 131. 2002). Chang (New Haven: Yale University Press. Michel Maincent. Silvano Serventi and Françoise Sabban. “T’ang. Edward H. 5. 8. 1570). 1999). 4. L’agriculture et la maison rustique.” L’Histoire 85 (1986): 109. 11. 281. Pasta. 47. 1977). trans. Le Livre du foie gras (Paris: Flammarion. Charles Estienne. C. French translation by Jean Liébault (Paris: Chez Jaques Du-Puys. editor K.” in Food in Chinese Culture: Anthropological and Historical Perspectives. Schafer. 18. 6. Gilbert Garrier. xiv. un ‘or jaune. 7.Major Foods and Ingredients 79 3. 1995. 1998). Le Buveur du XIXe siècle (Paris: Albin Michel. Technologie culinaire.


Efficient stoves and the taste for lighter foods. before the war.270 square yards) of selling space. executive chefs are astute managers as well as gastronomic high priests and food designers. the French acquire nearly all provisions in stores. they had fought tooth and nail to curb .500 square meters (about 1. most food shops were specialized and expensive. and of course the cook. In fast-food eateries.3 Cooking Elements that shape cooking practices include available ingredients. SUPERMARKETS As in other urban consumer societies. From the kitchen garden. This is a recent innovation. economical plats mijotés (slow-cooked dishes). Price-fixing was common. The transition from a largely agricultural way of life to a fully modern urban and suburban one was completed in the last century.308 to 3. and most food shopping is done at commercial chain supermarchés (supermarkets). as conservative shopkeepers sought to shield themselves from competition. as well as time pressure and busy schedules have contributed to the rise of fast-cooked foods as rivals to old-style.000 to 2. highly rationalized preparations. not to mention the oversized hypermarché. kitchen technologies. At the end of the Second World War. The roles of professional cooks are diverse. defined as having 1. cooking has become an assembly process where employees carry out simplified. In elite restaurants. home cooks have moved into the small shop and the supermarket.

and the Ministère des Finances (Ministry of Finance) took the opportunity to affirm the illegality of price-fixing. bread. By the 1960s. whose discounts hardly differed from small shop prices. This practice made a hit among his neighbors in Landerneau (Brittany) as they shopped for dinner. As Leclerc grew his first store and then opened other outlets. then sealed in plastic can be added directly to a dinner dish as it heats up. a store that stocked a wide variety of competitively priced comestibles was revolutionary if not actually heretical. and milk or juice in sealed tretrapacks or bricks that can be stored at room temperature until they are opened. In addition to packages of flash-frozen vegetables or fruits and containers of ice creams . however. he had to do battle with urban department stores such as Monoprix and Prisunic. some associate the large chains. Fresh potatoes that are peeled. Today. supermarchés stock perishables as well as items designed for long storage such as dried pasta. It was in these circumstances that the first of the modern domestic commercial chains got its start.2 As in the United States. A chain of supermarkets that is unique to France sells only surgelés (frozen foods). small shops close. sterile or Americanized way of life. fresh from a decade of schooling in Jesuit seminaries. ever on the lookout for bargains and a favorable rapport qualité-prix (quality-price ratio). packaged. self-service supermarkets had become prevalent and Leclerc’s practices the norm. The fancier stores have specialty counters such as for fresh fish. with an impersonal. Nonetheless. His outraged colleagues. legal limits have been imposed. defined as having selling space greater than 2. and wine. turned belligerent. like fast-food restaurants. and discounters (discount stores).270 square yards).1 In this atmosphere.500 square meters (about 3. such as the ban on building an hypermarché within city limits in Paris. then reselling them at a full 25 percent below the shop prices. and ready to eat. the small shopkeepers. canned goods. cooked. In the interest of maintaining commercial diversity and protecting the small shops.82 Food Culture in France the growth of cooperative magasins à succursales (chain stores). In 1949. the French more than any other European population frequent not just supermarchés but also hypermarchés or grande surfaces (superstores). the young Édouard Leclerc began buying large quantities of groceries directly from factories and producers. Sealed containers of fresh fruit salad kept under refrigeration are meant to be sold and eaten within a few days. A recent trend for commercial supermarkets and the food industry is to marry the appeal of fresh items with the convenience of food that is prepared. Leclerc had to write to the federal government to defend himself. In most towns where an Auchan or other big store opens.

Guild rules limited what a merchant could sell. In villages and small towns. The specialty shops recall that through the eighteenth century. and pâtés at the boucher-charcutier Lavigne in Montceau-les-Mines. . these stores sell items such as appetizers that can be quickly prepared by heating in the oven and tart shells to be filled with fruits for dessert or with a savory filling to make a hot lunch. the shops are usually located in the town center. but also gave the merchant an effective monopoly in that particular line of business. the boulangerie has long been an institution even in villages. As relatively few households had ovens until the midtwentieth century. The old rules are Sausages. terrines. and other pork products). In city neighborhoods.Cooking 83 and sorbets. Courtesy of Janine Depoil. bread being practically a synonym for life itself. charcuterie (shop for cured meats. SPECIALTY SHOPS Small specialty stores such as the fromagerie (cheese shop). rows of different kinds of food shops cluster together. royal statutes and guilds or corporations structured the manufacturing and retail sectors of the economy. sausages. and pâtisserie (pastry shop) recall older shopping traditions. hams. boulangerie (bread shop). especially hams.

a strategy opposite that of the generalist supermarket.3 The picture is quite different for less affluent areas. and bag produce. but . Pharmacies alternate night shifts against medical emergencies.84 Food Culture in France no longer in place. shop hours followed those of the business day. For the shopper filling a basket with provisions. Similarly. or about 157 to 523 square yards) and corner stores may remain open later still. this schedule became inconvenient and impractical. during the day. but boutiques cultivate the aura as well as the practice of specialization. until 11 P. STORE AND SHOP HOURS Until as recently as the 1980s. or midnight. especially outside of the densely populated cities and in small towns. Supérettes (convenience stores with selling space measuring 120 to 400 square meters. as well as upscale supermarkets. one refers to the good vegetables chez mon marchand de légumes (“at my grocer’s”). Food items are displayed behind glass or on shelves behind a counter. it is understood.M. Those who regularly frequent such stores often refer not to the shop itself. in the bourgeois classes the woman of the house remained at home and could shop and cook. connoisseurs with the means for leisure spending further extend their shopping circuits to venues formerly frequented largely by food professionals. One may make a trip chez mon poissonnier (“to my fish seller’s”). although fruits and vegetables are displayed in open bins. replaced by supermarkets that sell products more cheaply. As middle. who. Here specialty shops struggle to survive or have disappeared entirely. By earlier norms. Interaction between the customer and the shopkeeper is required for the purchase to be transacted. At this end of the economic spectrum. or supervise the shopping and cooking. In affluent areas. Shopkeepers slice ham to order. remaining open until 7 or 8 P. may be relied on for his expert knowledge in the matter of fish. Private attendance at annual or seasonal food and wine expositions and trade shows increases yearly. or praise a bottle discovered through mon caviste (“my wine seller”).M. Most small shops are not self-service. the small shops now offer access to products perceived as high quality and of reliable provenance. specialty shops run by traiteurs or caterers. It is considered rude to walk in to a small specialty food store simply to look around. but to the person who runs it. recommend cheeses to be eaten the same day or two days later.and upper-class women entered the workforce and the professions in larger numbers. sell prepared dishes that are ready to eat. Now most supermarkets and small shops keep evening hours.

During the late nineteenth century. In Le Ventre de Paris (The Belly of Paris. and cheeses for sale at outdoor markets are identical to those in the supermarkets. Beyond access to fresh foods. MARKETS The daily. China. Benin. . the market is the rapacious gullet and grumbling gut of the city. The stroll through the outdoor market is an end in itself. the rank stench that pervaded the fish and the meat sections by the day’s end in summer—the first modern refrigeration technology was still in its infancy and it was not yet widely available. At a good market. An ultra-modern supply chain provisions the market. outdoor marketing offers possibilities for socializing and a picturesque experience. and the market is a place to see and be seen. or weekend outdoor marchés (markets) in cities and towns can be traced through medieval trade and monastic fairs and to the marketplaces established in Gaul by the Romans. the produce. Today. Cheeses have been fully aged under proper conditions of temperature and humidity. driving cattle before them or carrying heavy baskets of provisions to sell.Cooking 85 other stores do not stay open round the clock. In the 1960s. south of Paris. Turkey. the fresh perfume from the flower stands. The heart and soul of food shopping dwell in the smaller retail markets. Ironically. weekly. and imports are flown in daily from Israel. Fruits are at the peak of ripeness. rivalries among merchants who compete for customers. in some instances. Truckloads of domestic produce arrive every morning. Food shopping is part of the business of the day. the market relocated to Rungis. Meats have been hung to develop their flavor and tenderness. swallowing up the lives of the individuals whose work there keeps the rest of the capital alive. Morocco. Zola documents in fascinating detail the nocturnal march that country dwellers made to arrive in the city by early morning. French cooking in general and la cuisine du marché in particular seek to bring out or improve the inherent features of good ingredients. to expand while easing urban traffic congestion. a special rich odor hangs in the air.4 Yet the notion that markets offer the best local items directly from a farmer or producer is not always wrong. 1873). the novelist Émile Zola “scientifically” described the sprawling Parisian market located for centuries at Les Halles. it is these elements of market culture that draw crowds. and other locations. Rungis is a wholesale market open to professionals and retailers such as restaurant chefs and grocers. As much as the opportunity to buy edibles and ingredients. La cuisine du marché (market cooking) implies taking inspiration from seasonal ingredients. meats.

If no vanilla bean was used. apple cider. and contemporary notions of gender equality have brought men. In a saucepan. The education of women including higher education. Take the pot off the heat. familiar. dipping each section briefly into the lemon mixture to prevent discoloring. The phrase la cuisine grand-mère (grandmother’s cooking) describes dishes that are thought to be old-fashioned and soul-satisfying. such as the simple home dessert compote de pommes. and cloves. until the apples are cooked but still intact. the entry of women into the professions. preferably a firm cooking variety such as Granny Smith • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice • 1/2 cup water • 2 cups water. vanilla bean (if using). cover the pot. and quarter the apples. When people reminisce. add vanilla extract. sugar. nostalgia centered around food and cuisine de ménage or cuisine familiale (home cooking) tends to have an association with women. serve the apples with cream or a scoop of ice cream. hard apple cider. as well. however. they recall “my mother’s” version of a dish as the very best. Particularly in younger couples. You may need to baste and turn the apples once or twice to make sure they are coated with syrup. . and gently simmer for about 5 minutes. Grate a dash of nutmeg over each serving. salt. Bring the syrup to the boil.86 Food Culture in France COOKING AT HOME Cooking at home. the tasks—or pleasures—of cooking and food shopping are likely to be shared. was long the province of women. into the home kitchen as cooks and nurturers for their families and households. Peel. Add the apples. and comforting. Allow the apples to cool in their syrup. Stewed Apples (Compote de pommes) • 6 large apples. cinnamon sticks. If desired. like housework and childcare. combine 2 cups water (or cider or wine). then reduce the heat and simmer slowly for 10 minutes. or white wine • 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar • pinch salt • 1 2-inch piece of a vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract • 2 2-inch cinnamon sticks • 2 whole cloves • nutmeg Mix the lemon juice and 1/2 cup water in a bowl. core.

Home cooks take advantage of fresh preparations from specialty shops. Cooking technology. and semi-prepared elements further facilitate the task of cooking and serving meals at home. The repetitions imposed by time. such as fish in fillets. cooking remains a central feature of home life. Breakfast pastries such as brioche and croissant are purchased from the boulanger or pâtissier. FAST COOKING AND SHORTCUTS In home kitchens. and carve roasts. and technical competence are balanced by any number of outside influences. Other staples of the kitchen and table purchased ready-made include jams. Home cooking today. budget. A written recipe often consisted of only a few words jotted on a scrap of paper or in a family book as an aide-mémoire (prod to the memory). Basic kitchen equipment and a dining table with chairs are among the very first items that a young person or couple setting up house will buy. prepared. personal taste. from televised cooking shows to the wide variety of domestic and imported foods in stores. affluence. yogurt. tradition. recipes were transmitted within families primarily as cooking techniques. despite the prevalence of eating out. refill water and wine glasses. In addition to preparing meals. and time pressures factor into this trend. coming from the kitchen. such as .Cooking 87 Regardless of professional accomplishments that women realize outside the home. slow-simmered soups or stews of past centuries have largely been replaced by quick dishes. meats in fillets and chops. and the mustard that is ubiquitous in vinaigrette dressing for salads and as a condiment for meats. Supermarkets sell items suited to the fast cooking methods. bring in fresh plates for the next course. participation in the family meal still often relies on the performance of roles that remain defined by gender. and produce that can be eaten raw in salads. female family members are likely to stack up used plates and carry them away from the table. although it is a part of nearly every meal. steaming (for vegetables). The continuity and sense of tradition that marked these practices corresponded to repetition. however. is more varied and experimental. Today. the economical. a cake may be bought from a pâtissier. used primarily as references for proportions or methods. Ready-made. charcuterie. cheese. and carry in food from the kitchen. baking for items that do not require long exposure to heat. For a holiday or birthday celebration. Bread is almost never made at home. Until quite recently. and pressure cooking are the preferred methods. A family’s entire kitchen library consisted of one or two basic printed cookbooks. Searing or sautéing. Men uncork wine bottles.

and remaining olive oil together in a saucepan over medium heat for about 5 minutes. garlic. the central features are running water. then sprinkle on both sides with salt and pepper. rationalized kitchen that is typical became so only during the last half-century. and lay out flat in a baking dish. The stove has evolved in a particularly dramatic fashion. home-cooked main dish. add the sugar. Before serving. Stir the onion. which became standard in France in the 1950s. Bake 25 minutes. Pour in the wine. and a modern stove. sprinkle the whole fish or each serving with chopped parsley. tomato.88 Food Culture in France a butcher’s mixture of fresh. Minimal fuss yields a fresh. simple preparation but lively flavor describe this typical recipe for baked fish with a tomato sauce. Coat the fish thoroughly with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. loose raw sausage meat or ground pork with spices or herbs. chopped Preheat the oven to 350° F. then taste and season with salt and pepper. Pour the tomato sauce over the fish. until the onion and tomato soften and the sauce thickens. TOOLS IN THE HOME KITCHEN The efficient. then gives the stuffed vegetables a quick turn on the stove in an inch of liquid or pops them into the oven. and dice them. Baked Cod with Tomatoes (Cabillaud à la portugaise) • 2 pounds fresh cod fillets • salt • pepper • 1/3 cup olive oil • 1/3 cup chopped onion • 4 medium tomatoes • 3 cloves garlic. crushed • 1/2 cup dry white wine • 1/2 teaspoon sugar • 6 sprigs parsley. Similarly. As in any western kitchen. then peel. one simply spoons the flavored meat into hollowed-out tomatoes or zucchini. one cooked over a brazier or else in pots suspended above an open fire that vented through . In rustic dwellings having no separate room for cooking. seed. At home. Drop the tomatoes in boiling water for 20 seconds to facilitate peeling. an easy plat (main course) for a summer lunch or dinner.

Today. This modification facilitated baking and the simultaneous preparation of multiple dishes. Beyond the major appliances. By the end of the eighteenth century. The four (oven). Congélateurs (freezers) are less common. Ustensiles or petits outils (utensils). made by General Motors. allowed easy control over the cooking flame. both gas and variations on the electrical stove—efficient for slow cooking—are prevalent in home kitchens. have been popular since the 1970s. Today. Recent innovations such as smooth ceramic stovetops and plaques à induction (magnetic induction cooktops) that do not retain heat when no cooking is in process double as countertops. and. Accomplished amateur cooks prize restaurant-grade appliances such as oversize gas stoves that throw powerful flames. Electric stoves with burner disks or coils that come to temperature became common in the 1960s. suburban dwellers with spacious houses may have a larger refrigerator with a substantial freezer section and keep a separate deep freezer in a basement or garage. beaters.Cooking 89 the roof. fires in chimneys in the great houses conveniently supported spit roasting. recently. The gas stove avoided the burden of stocking wood or charcoal. hand-held plunge mixeurs (blenders) that convert vegetables into soup. and brick. Situating the fire on a hearth against an exterior wall and venting through a chimney imposed a sense of containment. often separate from the stovetop. and released fewer particulate pollutants. cast iron and other metal stoves became available. is usually electric. By the seventeenth century. A réfrigérateur or frigo (refrigerator) has been standard since the late 1960s. where space comes at a premium. food processors. which became widely available in the 1930s. Fours à micro-ondes (microwaves). The multipurpose surfaces are appreciated in city apartments. and energy conservation. as early as the late 1920s. In addition to the top range. self-contained electrical steamers for vegetables. common gadgets in home kitchens include coffee makers. an offshoot of radar technology developed in the United States during the Second World War. . The 1850s saw the invention of the gas stove. as well as in cooking as such. although wealthy families purchased Frigidaires. la batterie de cuisine (pots and pans). Their engineering and design reflect contemporary interest in safety. aesthetics. even a simple or modest kitchen has connections for the full range of appareils électroménagers (appliances) now considered basic and essential. metal stoves came to include multiple ovens with individual access doors. Dishwashers and range vents above the stove are prevalent.or tile-covered fourneaux (“furnaces”) slow simmering and stewing in pots on the stovetop. and la vaisselle (dishes) complete the equipment in the home kitchen.

a couteau économe (peeler). cutting.90 Food Culture in France Despite the capacities of electrical food processors. and râpe (grater) complete the basic kitchen tool kit. and surfaces for chopping. and beat ingredients in mixing bowls or in pots or pans. and paring are essentials. over which one slides vegetables. shallow soup plates with a wide diameter and deep flat rim. recently. Equally typical rustic glazed terra cotta is found in the South. a firmly anchored. and impermeability to stains and odors. or grated. gives the desired consistency and subtly blends the strong perfumes. Home cooks use porcelain and stoneware dishes to bake gratins. and searing. tartes. France has been known for elegant china. raclette (scraper). frying. when the Cocotte-Minute was marketed for fast cooking and energy efficiency. durability. and after-dinner coffee cups. toss. silicone is becoming ubiquitous in the kitchen for flexible kneading and baking surfaces. With its extraordinary flexibility. basil leaves and olive oil. However. fruits. passoire (colander). or cheese that must be scored. such as decorative Quimper ware from Brittany. A fouet (whisk). sliced. Poêles and sauteuses (pots and pans) are used for boiling. sautéing. The whirling blades of a food processor or blender produce an unattractive mixture that is too uniform in texture. the various regions are known for their local styles. angled surface holding multiple blades. By contrast. The cocotte is still appreciated for these qualities. in addition to utensils. In sets of . heat resistance. and it is a feature of many kitchens. For centuries wooden and metal spoons have served to stir. including commissioning the Sèvres manufacture. although it is often weekend cooks and connoisseurs who take the time to use them. and trivets. some cooks insist that the only way to make good pistou (pesto for stirring into vegetable soup) is by hand using a mortier et pilon (mortar and pestle). braising. These implements are designed to last for decades. dessert plates. Sets of plates usually include the typical hemispherical breakfast bowls for café au lait in addition to flat dinner plates. In the South. a variety of couteaux (knives). Early experiments with pressure cooking date to the seventeenth century. Since the importation of porcelain from China and the efforts of Louis XIV to promote luxury industries. Sturdy enameled cast iron pots for simmering soups and stews over a steady heat and for baking in the oven are appreciated. crushing together garlic cloves and salt. Newer utensils made of hard plastic and. spatule (spatula). smaller plates for amuse-bouches (appetizers). and other preparations destined for the oven. Many people use the mandoline. silicone supplement the wooden spoons. the marmite à pression or autocuiseur (pressure cooker) became popular only after the Second World War. poaching. cake molds. julienned. mix.

whether chefs de cuisine (executive chefs) or cuisiniers (line cooks). Few chefs achieved independence or autonomy with the rise of the restaurant in the eighteenth century. the new institutions were issuing diplomas for students finishing their three-year programs. smoky kitchens. and restaurateurs opposed them. nineteenth-century chefs made significant efforts to improve their working lives. and cooking. Nonetheless. A BTS or Brevet de technicien supérieur is a more advanced two. For restaurant owners. and one had to work one’s way up from the very bottom. preparing sauces. it was cheaper to exploit the old system of apprenticeship than to hire relatively demanding cooking school graduates. In the 1840s. chefs train both in cooking schools and through modern apprenticeships. cooks united to form mutual aid societies. Paid cooks have long toiled in the worst of conditions.or three-year technical course. The lowliest apprentice scoured pots and washed dishes before being promoted to chopping vegetables. winning little recognition and minimal remuneration for long hours in dangerously hot. forks are designed to be attractive from the back. Cooking exhibitions and competitions that showed off cooks’ talents multiplied. as the tines of the fork face down on a set table. have with few exceptions been men. The cooking schools initially struggled. thus professionalizing the work of cooking. but most cooks worked under a maître d’hôtel who managed the establishment or else they reported to the propriétaire or restaurateur (owner) himself. Trade and professional journals emerged that were written by and for the chefs. that follows the baccalauréat. The first cooking school was established in 1881. The BEP or Brevet d’études professionelles and the CAP or Certificat d’aptitude professionelle for cooking are the vocational diplomas for two-year programs taken at the end of high school. Boys and young men learned the cooking trade through apprenticeship. Opinion is divided as to whether a lengthy apprenticeship and a series of stages (shorter periods of training) under reputable chefs in good restaurants . Restaurants and job opportunities multiplied during the nineteenth century.Cooking 91 silverware or stainless steel flatware. By the century’s end. the culinary profession began to come into its own. Today. The grand cooking that evolved in aristocratic houses and that underpins elite cooking in today’s fine restaurants was carried out by individuals regarded as little more than servants. PROFESSIONAL COOKS Professional or career chefs. They replace the baccalauréat (high school diploma) earned at the end of (in American terms) thirteenth grade. Despite many obstacles. for instance in foodservice.

where the use of semi-prepared products often moves the food toward an industrial model. In addition to cooking. such as pâtissier or boulanger. The media favor a glamorous vision of the elite culinary world. have a relatively low status within the Éducation nationale (national education system). In 1951. or regional foods are operated by immigrant families. Yet despite the respect for craft and appreciation for quality.5 Cooking and hotel schools.6 A talented baker or other food producer who wins one of the widely recognized competitions is named Meilleur Ouvrier de France (Best Worker in France) in his category. they now managed and became principal financial stakeholders. and the use of relatively modern kitchens.92 Food Culture in France or a diploma from a respected hotel or culinary school offers the better entrée to a career. such situations bring higher salaries. more reasonable hours. a group of owner-manager chefs formed the Association des Maîtres . and in retirement homes. who assume the rigors of restaurant work as a way to establish themselves within the country. in military mess halls. along with their students and graduates. local. however. and hospital cafeterias. and it is difficult to fill jobs for cooks in casual restaurants and other everyday commercial contexts. a handful of enterprising chefs took the step of buying their own restaurants gastronomiques (high-end restaurants). prison. After the Second World War. STAR CHEFS In the last few decades. many bistros and restaurants serving traditional. professionals or salariés such as teachers and office workers earn a yearly salary and benefits. One expert calculates a deficit of cooks in the tens of thousands. Because cooking school curricula are practical. At the same time. Inherent difficulties in the profession have not changed much over the centuries. the term ouvrier reminds the winner that he is a laborer as well as an artisan.8 There is a perception that the opportunity for creative cooking is limited in these contexts. Most restaurant cooks do not own the establishments in which they work. Being a cook requires long hours of manual labor. To work as a chef is punishing. It is significant that at present. Rather.7 and most paid cooks do not work in commercial restaurants at all. with few days off each year. business. relative to typical commercial restaurant work. a more predictable workload. some chefs have redefined their roles within commercial restaurants and a few achieved spectacular public success. The award is quite prestigious. By contrast. Winners proudly post it in their shop windows. graduates and most chefs are qualified as service workers and earn an hourly wage or contract fees. the majority find employment in school. which privileges the liberal professions and professional courses.

To this cuisine sous contrat (cooking on contract). Alain Senderens. for the finest of the fine restaurants are so expensive to run that they are rarely profitable. the chef may also lend the cachet of his name for marketing. Today. Courtesy of Christian Verdet/regard publicunpact. Michel Guérard. the first televised cooking show brought elegant cuisine and an accomplished. For chefs. cuisiniers de France. and Paul Bocuse have cultivated ties with the industrie agroalimentaire (agricultural-alimentary industry). the company underwrites the chef’s restaurant. Michelin-starred chefs such as Joël Robuchon. the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (National Institute for Agronomic Research).Cooking 93 Chef Michel Troisgros (second from left) of the three-star restaurant Troisgros in Roanne at work with his staff. contracts with . Companies in the agro-alimentary industry and chefs themselves further cultivate links to private and government-supported research laboratories such as INRA. In 1953. The Association aimed to promote high-quality restaurants and the autonomous chef de cuisine. Michel Troisgros. Acting as a consultant and advisor. the chef assists a company to improve quality in mass-produced items. In return. Since the 1970s. the roles played by a select group of elite chefs extend far beyond activity in a single restaurant kitchen to affect a much wider market. independent chef as star performer. into homes across the country. such as packaged meals for airlines or for retail in commercial supermarket chains.

became quite well known. many middle class and smaller bourgeois households employed a cuisinière (female cook) who worked under the direct supervision of the mistress of the house. early in the twentieth. Until as recently as the mid-twentieth century. The history of the cuisinières has yet to be elaborated beyond anecdote. In contrast with the elaborate preparations and expensive exotic ingredients used in elite restaurants. and government. their cooking relied essentially on local Chef Monique Salera cooking in her restaurant La Dame d’Aquitaine in Dijon. The mères are associated especially with the Lyon area. Courtesy of Philippe Bornier. in part because of their influence on successful male chefs. The mères came to prominence starting at the end of the nineteenth century and. A few of the mères. finance. helped by restaurant reviewers and food writers. . however. WOMEN CHEFS There have been a few notable exceptions to the gender divide in professional cooking.94 Food Culture in France agro-alimentary companies may be coercive or beneficial. the purview of the star chef extends beyond the restaurant kitchen and dining room to overlapping spheres of industry. In either case. Some of their restaurants began as tiny establishments that served home-style dishes to feed the canuts (silk-workers) who populated the city. There is also the small group of remarkable chef-proprietors known since the end of the eighteenth century as mères (mothers).

A congress of (male) cooks from throughout France and Algeria that met in Paris in 1893 declared its opposition to the entry of women as apprentices in the great restaurant and hotel kitchens. chicken poached with morels or truffles. garlic. innovative. and professional cooking culture that have been actively hostile to seeing women work in professional kitchens. Their success flies in the face of traditions of food writing. The group did support teaching women from the popular classes the art of home cooking as part of a more general enseignement ménager (course in domestic economy). or grand cuisine. These chefs were as often as not simply called La Mère … (Mother So-and-So) by their clients and. along with food items. Gastronomy—the knowledgeable appreciation of food—has tended to view women. tablier de sapeur (tripe that is marinated. cooking school students and apprentices working in restaurants note the macho culture and inhospitable climate prevalent in many professional kitchens. and cervelle de canuts (“silk-weavers brains”—fresh cheese seasoned with chives. coated with breadcrumbs.11 PROFESSIONAL COOKING Venues for professional cooking vary from local bistros and cafés to the grand restaurants gastronomiques. in the press. rather than as capable connoisseurs. then served with fresh chervil sauce). and red wine vinegar). but this also aimed to train women for their roles as mothers and nurturers within the family. founded in 1912 as a private automobile club whose members sought out restaurants for touring destinations. as consumables. Several won and many kept for years one or more Michelin stars.Cooking 95 ingredients and relatively simple methods. not to mention grande cuisine or haute cuisine. fried.10 Today. restaurant reviewing. pike quenelles (poached fine-textured fish dumplings) with crayfish sauce. Hostility to the entry of women into the world of professional cooks has long emanated from the ranks of male cooks who feared competition. eel stew. In the twentieth century. a few talented female chefs in prominent restaurants challenge the strong masculine association to good restaurant food. eventually. Dishes associated with their restaurants include roasted chicken. horseradish. bon-vivant. omelets. the most widely recognized indicator of quality for a restaurant. is to this day open only to men. along with salt. pepper. styles of restaurant cooking . and early promoter of nouvelle cuisine Paul Bocuse is said to have scoffed at the capacity of female cooks for refined. rather than by their first and last names. the great chef. savory onion tarts. Today. The exclusive Club des Cent (Hundred Club).9 In this era a mandate recommended cooking instruction in the public schools.

an entremets (“between dishes. between roast and cheese) that often consisted of foie gras. . nineteenth. for instance. The workspace may be a tiny room that differs little from a home kitchen. an ice (sometimes served as an entremets). Staff performed numerous tasks. The découpage (carving) was carried out in the dining room. Until as late as the 1970s. and coffee. A given cut of meat. He defines its basic elements and rules for combining them. a cavernous chamber appointed with industrial strength appliances and staffed by a numerous brigade (contingent of kitchen staff) in a large hotel. and early twentieth centuries. soft dishes such as a creamy dessert must be accompanied by a dry biscuit for contrast. The menus available on a daily basis in wealthy houses and in grand restaurants were for banquets. codifying. or something in between. Cold and hot dishes must alternate. desserts such as crêpes Suzette were flambéed tableside. served with a variety of sauces. a roast. The style of cooking that underpins today’s school curricula and that takes place in fine-dining restaurants emerged from the aristocratic traditions of the great houses and from court cuisine as well as from their continuations by private cooks in bourgeois houses of the eighteenth. and accompanied by a selection of fillings or garnishes that lend flavor.96 Food Culture in France range from traditional and regional to the cuisines exotiques (“exotic” cuisines) borrowed from around the world. A proper meal in the grand style consisted of potage or soup. Fish and meat must not be combined in the same dish: they belonged in separate courses. may be cooked in different ways. and they added interest to the final presentation. a variety of entrées or first courses. in some cases to finish the cooking. a hot appetizer or hors-d’oeuvre followed by a relevé that was seasoned to provide flavor contrast. Escoffier’s volume is a grammar of cuisine classique (classical cooking). and waiters served from full-sized platters that they carried around the table. dishes were served en salle (in the dining room).. yet clearly related to other dishes with which it may be paired or contrasted to compose a full meal. These elements were assembled before the cooking. Rules for menu composition imposed balance and variety. dessert.e. Dishes often featured touches such as layers of stuffings and decorative pastry shells. The peak of success for grand cooking came at the turn of the twentieth century and is best reflected in the Guide culinaire (1903) of Auguste Escoffier. Repetition must be avoided from garnish to vegetable to side dish. Each combination pulled from the matrix is a specific dish with its own name. a salad. and rationalizing grand cooking into a clear system. Influential transformations occurred in high-end restaurant cooking during the middle and late twentieth century. Sweet.” i. cheese.

A fish preparation from the Troisgros kitchen shows the influence of nouvelle cuisine. the grand serving platters disappeared. plat. and they sought to make food taste as fresh as possible. elements of nouvelle cuisine such as the emphasis on fresh ingredients and clear flavors are part of the culinary lexicon of nearly every discerning chef. or gésier (gizzard) confit. Chefs brought together items formerly separated into different courses and began to use ingredients formerly excluded from elegant cooking.Cooking 97 As chefs asserted their autonomy. As chefs traveled abroad and as immigrants from the former colonies introduced new foods and ingredients. chefs initiated a kind of control and direct contact with individual diners by plating food in the kitchen. as was green salad topped with slices of foie gras. Chicken and shrimp brochettes (grilled on skewers) were an innovation. Foie gras moved from the end of the meal to the start as a first course or entrée. Service was now à l’assiette (by individual plate). . Chefs rejected as heavy and antiquated the overuse of preparations such as the roux (flour cooked in butter. and dessert. Ultimately the meal was simplified to today’s standard of three courses: entrée (first course). the food critics and guidebook authors Henri Gault and Christian Millau called the new style nouvelle cuisine (new cuisine) and became its outspoken champions. magret de canard (breast of duck). “exotics” from kiwis to couscous further inflected French cooking. They now preferred fruit and vegetable purées and reductions. Beginning in the 1950s. Courtesy of Christian Verdet/regard public-unpact. a thickening liaison used as a sauce base. Today. transformations traceable to about mid-century pushed food and service in the direction of contemporary practice. In 1973. to which liquid is added). Unconventional combinations appeared.

A piece of food enclosed in a sealed bag or container is cooked at a relatively low . In some cases. truffle. quirky approach to highly refined cooking that is also creative. Varieties of cuisine du terroir focus on native ingredients and dishes. Instead. a group of chefs published a manifesto protesting the encroachment of globalizing influences and praising all things native and local. For convenience. Courtesy of Christian Verdet/regard public-unpact. or deliberately conservative. economy. such as cooking sous vide (“in a vacuum”). with their old hierarchies and structures. as a matter of principle. even ludic. nostalgic. casual restaurant kitchens exploit industrial innovations: pre-prepared vegetables. Several distinct trends are at work in contemporary restaurant cooking. and cream sauce deconstructed into its component parts.98 Food Culture in France Post-modern food from the Troisgros kitchen: pasta with a mushroom. Within the last five years. Relatively simple establishments serving well-prepared. even homely dishes to eaters whose nostalgia for home cooking finds no answer in a fast-paced lifestyle or perhaps in living alone. precooked items. These menus may be authentic. occupies a relatively small space in France. striking mixtures of foreign and local ingredients and methods. a nouvelle vague (new wave) of young cooks with outstanding credentials from apprenticeships in top kitchens has moved beyond the domain of Michelin-starred restaurants. Cuisine de tradition. offers familiar. everyday fare provide a steady continuo beneath the elaborate melodies of fashion and fad. they attach to a political ideology that seeks to resist or attenuate outside influences and to affirm a local or regional identity. a kind of comfort food. or to compensate for insufficient staff. characterized by bold. the proponents of la jeune cuisine (young cuisine) take a personal. In the 1990s. Outspoken fusion cuisine. dehydrated fonds de sauce (sauce bases). Chefs in a variety of contexts adopt new materials and industrial techniques.

paeans to the pleasures of the table are ancient. More recently. and the scope of their activities has increased. Since antiquity. interest. and the chef is spared worry. the first narrative food guide judged Parisian restaurants for quality.Cooking 99 temperature. ritual. Each reinforced the importance. Through the eighteenth century. Durable print extended the life and reach of ephemeral edibles. and according to precise timing. and a new food publishing industry gained impressive momentum. The guide author. and knowledge derive from reading a newspaper review of the restaurant. and consumers. chefs and food producers interact intensively with writers. as well as giving their addresses.12 To be sure. His judgments also affected the subsequent activities of chefs and caterers concerned to receive favorable reviews. and stakes for the other. the prevalent associations are quality. variety. along with conviviality. the activities of producers (cooks. Grimod de la Reynière. the results are predictable. the players in the various culinary and gastronomic spheres have multiplied. As in the United States. Here. food sellers) and consumers (eaters. 1803–1812). But other pleasure. Over two centuries. notably the first modern-style narrative food guide and food periodical. In principle. or obsessive theme. the reputation and prominence of French cuisine within the country and beyond is due not only to the excellence and variety of the food but also to the elaboration of discourses about that food. readers. such works as domestic tracts and novels have done the same. Since the seventeenth century it has enjoyed tremendous prestige. fashion in food emanated from grand houses and the royal court. writers) exerted a mutual influence. standards of quality can be guaranteed. however. As political and social structures evolved (highlighted by the Revolution of 1789). with little added liquid. agricultural and medical treatises. The first decade of the nineteenth century. Since the early nineteenth century. and poems have treated aspects of food culture as a primary subject or ancillary topic. histories. Today. and coherence. reported on restaurants and food items ostensibly as he experienced them. Contained within the yearly publication entitled the Almanach des Gourmands (Gourmands’ Almanac. saw important innovations in food writing. COOKING AND THE MEDIA French food has long been known for its special éclat (sparkle and glamour). and shared enjoyment. leitmotif. publicists. Geography or budget may prevent one from visiting an outstanding restaurant in a neighboring province. . legitimacy. This back-and-forth democratizes food cultures and also serves to legislate and regulate standards of taste and quality. restaurants multiplied.

1983. Marion Demossier. The power of critics is so strong that a few chefs at the most elevated end of the cooking spectrum have rebelled. the media extension of food in France is now vast. A strong review sends customers flocking in droves to a restaurant. too. purchasing the chef ’s cookbook. 1982). These chefs have taken themselves out of the running for prestigious honors. 2. “Consuming Wine in France: The ‘Wandering’ Drinker and the Vin-anomie. NOTES 1. Gilles Normand. Amy Jacobs (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. and perhaps making some of his recipes at home. From day to day.100 Food Culture in France watching a televised interview with the chef. Yet the response of writers and critics influences cooks. 2006). 1936). it is the home cooks and restaurant chefs who serve up continuity and creativity on the plate. A critical piece banishes the chef to culinary and economic purgatory. As in the United States. Morocco. An everlarger number of cookbooks are available in bookstores. to conform. It includes food shows on television. The interactions of food producers and consumers further shape and regulate—prescribe and proscribe—standards of quality and concepts of good taste. Wilson (Oxford: Berg. trans. 2005). A newspaper column influences home cooks seeking ideas for dinner. editor Thomas M. They refuse. They ignore as interference the mediating roles of critic and reporter to please themselves and their clients directly. John Ardagh. 3. and periodicals devoted to food and cooking. 396–405. in other words. The phenomenon indexes the social prestige of food connoisseurship in an affluent society. or Japan) or focusing on clearly foreign foodstuffs (from Anglo muffins or scones to Chinese wok dishes). and stimulates the imagination. providing a space for fantasy in which the dining table is a vanishing point in the far distance. Michèle de la Pradelle. Histoire des maisons à succursales en France (Paris: Union des entreprises modernes. food-related Web sites and databases.” in Drinking Cultures: Alcohol and Identity. . The mediatization of cuisine encourages participation. 4. Some have stated their lack of interest in the distinction of a Michelin star and chosen to prepare food that expresses a personal preference or philosophy. France in the 1980s (New York: Penguin. teaching viewers and readers how to cook and about food. Market Day in Provence. 139. in order to cook by their own lights. There is a marked increase in the recent publication of cookbooks for “exotic” cuisines (of Thailand.

Drouard. 2004). Nostalgic Cooks: Another French Paradox.” American Journal of Sociology 104. 54. no. 12. 9. Sylvie-Anne Mériot. eds. 20. Alain Drouard. 2004).” L’Histoire 273 (February 2003): 25–26. 7. Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson. Histoire des cuisiniers en France XIXe-XXe siècle (Paris: CNRS. 3 (November 1998): 597–641 and Accounting for Taste: The Triumph of French Cuisine (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Histoire de l’alimentation: Quels enjeux pour la formation? (Dijon: Educagri. 2006). “Ces dames au ‘piano. La Reynière [Robert Courtine]. 10. 6.Cooking 101 5. trans. Drouard. Patrick Rambourg. Drouard. 131 and passim in Julia Csergo and Christophe Marion. 133. 1977).. “Guerre des sexes au fourneau!. 11. . “A Cultural Field in the Making: Gastronomy in 19th-Century France.’” Le Monde (May 21. 8. Trevor Cox and Chanelle Paul (Boston: Brill. 2004).


At noon. is now an important meal. may still be substantial and served in three courses (entrée. as a time to see family members. As the service of dishes progresses. MEAL TIMES Today’s standard three meals evolved over centuries. Seasonal changes and religious observance also played a role. The structure of the French meal. for example. The petit déjeuner (breakfast). at about 8 P.M.4 Typical Meals Three meals each day is typical in France. dinner is often the only weekday meal for which the whole family can gather together at table. . The dîner. although for different groups of people. long the main meal for many people. and income. the familiar structure frames conversation and reinforces the separation of mealtime from the hustle and bustle of the day. eating schedules varied greatly according to profession. and fromage or dessert) or may consist of a sandwich eaten on the run.1 Elites might eat twice daily. From one to four meals daily was common. is insubstantial. with its unfolding sequence of courses. the déjeuner (lunch). Through the late nineteenth century. taken in the morning before school or work. plat. and as an opportunity to enjoy the sensual pleasures of food and drink. region.. is especially conducive to relaxed enjoyment at table. The evening meal is looked forward to as a respite from the day’s work. Because both men and women work outside the home.

the light goûter or snack. as larger numbers of people cultivated the leisurely enjoyment of carefully prepared. For those who ate all four meals. middle-class and modern bourgeois family dinner makes an equally important contribution to quality of life. was often a working meal in the sense of today’s business lunches. Today. After the Second World War. there was the déjeuner. this early meal was called le petit (small) déjeuner. supper was the most substantial meal. which included meat and required the use of a fork and knife. this meal could also include meat and wine. but this was not consistent. For those in modest circumstances. The demographic and industrial shift resulted in the shared work schedule that now prevails. The professional classes preferred to eat a large déjeuner at noon or one o’clock. The name suggests that the presence for a déjeuner of items other than liquid soup. For agricultural workers who stayed in the fields all day long and for those who worked far from home. technological modernization and the massive exodus from villages and rural areas to cities transformed society. the sense of leisure. after accomplishing the morning’s work. wine. the first meal. the morning déjeuner and mid-day dîner each migrated later in the day.2 As recently as the late eighteenth century. School and most work schedules are designed to allow . the custom of privileging the evening dîner gained in the nineteenth century. possibly quite elaborate and luxurious meals in a sociable setting. that is. the mid-day meal was sometimes called a déjeuner à la fourchette (fork luncheon). Today. the mid-day dîner (or collation). Despite the importance of the mid-day meal. most likely made of vegetables and grains. smaller déjeuner was added to tide over appetites until mid-day. and then finally the souper. By the early nineteenth century. then called the déjeuner (“to break the fast”). again soup or light stew. or coffee was still somewhat remarkable.104 Food Culture in France and manual laborers up to four times each day. Affluence also made significant social reforms possible. usually consisted of soup. but in the countryside the word souper is still used to mean the evening meal. a second. The names used today for the three meals recall how practices have changed over time. material comfort. The déjeuner à la fourchette. As industrial jobs increased in number and urban populations became larger. including the month of paid vacation given to salaried workers since 1965 (converted to five weeks in 1981) and the 35-hour workweek instituted in the late 1990s. and bread. Because the first substantial meal was now relatively late. if they were available. the population of villagers and rural dwellers is small. A smaller meal (le souper). By the 1890s. might be added in the early evening. and convivial enjoyment that accompanies the working-class. the déjeuner might be practically the only nourishment throughout the day.

so that staff have evenings free. freedom from the ritual of the family meal may be experienced as an opportunity to develop a more individual lifestyle. the family meal is at times a locus of tension. This is a convenient way to clean the plate between courses if the plates are not changed. Some shops and offices close at mid-day.M. Nonetheless. An entrée or first course might consist of soup. make the family meal seem for some irrelevant.. This is followed by a plat principal or main dish. it may consist of eggs. Many think that to eat “all alone” (manger tout seul) is sad. a plate of crudités (raw vegetables) served with a vinaigrette dressing. or simply impossible to achieve. The French palate prefers rich and deep flavors over sharp or spicy ones. peppery. with perhaps a fruit or sweet to finish. the family meal or a full meal with friends or colleagues is a central feature of daily life. or fish. STRUCTURE OF A MAIN MEAL The dishes that make up a main meal appear in a succession of separate courses. Although the practice is frowned on in polite (such as bourgeois) circles. making the meal an expression of shared values. outmoded. crisp.Typical Meals 105 breaks for meals. as well as to enjoy every last drop of the sauce. Especially in the younger generation. As in many countries. or a cooked salad. such as an omelet. For a summer seasonal entrée. so that both ingredients end up tasting even better. small pieces of bread are used to sop up sauces and salad dressings. be it ever so simple. larger numbers of people living alone. and a finished dish. Eating is considered a convivial activity par excellence. that food tastes better when it is shared. becomes more than the sum of its parts. to reopen in the afternoon at 1:30 or 2:00 P. and balance and harmony are sought when planning a meal. and people take a slice or break off a piece of a loaf as desired. there is a strong shared feeling of the rhythm of the day. Portions are small. although others worry about a decline of traditional ways and deterioration of the social fabric. A main dish usually contains meat. others do not keep late evening hours. As a culture. The community aspect of meals strengthens social ties and even the sense of equality. Bread is placed on the table throughout the meal. Afterward comes a green tossed salad and a cheese course. and the replacement or disappearance of the nuclear family as the defining social unit. Because most people throughout the country take meals at about the same time. so the appetite is not overwhelmed by the succession of different edibles. the French place a high value on sociability and community. Edibles seek complements. poultry. Factors such as the fast pace of modern life. fresh radishes are balanced .

Although such substitutions are common. plats. there is a self-consciousness about making them. Eating a sandwich for a quick lunch would not be called taking a meal. BREAKFAST The petit déjeuner is light and simple. which are thought of as substitutions or deviations. replace the cheese course with a light alternative such as yogurt. The expectations for a proper meal color perceptions of other forms of eating. smaller meals for health reasons mitigate against preparing and eating the full succession of courses. Such factors as cost. a French press that allows ground coffee to release its fragrance into freshly boiled water before a dense hard filter is lowered in to separate out the grounds. pared down to a hearty composed salad as a main dish. Chinese. and so on) adapt their menus to follow French custom. the whole thing accompanied by bread—the foods are nonetheless organized within the traditional structure. but simply referred to as eating. Another important feature of French meals is the distinction between savory and sweet. much less a proper meal. dense slice of foie gras cries out for a spoonful of sweettart currant or gooseberry preserve. Durable combinations of flavors and textures are sought.106 Food Culture in France with creamy dairy butter spread on fresh bread and finished with a sprinkling of salt. restaurants serving a foreign cuisine (Vietnamese. followed by cheese. menus will group dishes into entrées. For a main dish. It is unusual to mix salty and sweet flavors within a single dish. A hot main dish may be followed by a crisp. When eating at home. which is still present in miniature. Moroccan. Similarly. especially women concerned with weight gain. or a stove-top Moka device that forces water up through ground coffee by steam pressure. Sweets are saved for the end of a meal. and likely described as eating sur le pouce (in a hurry). Thai. heated milk poured with strong hot coffee into a hemispherical bowl. a dash of . as one is refusing what is traditional and expected. cool salad. lack of time. Whether or not the practice coincides with eating custom in the country of origin of the food itself. and interest in eating lighter. many people. the clean acidity of tomato and the aroma of anise seed complement the sweet marine flavors in a fish soup. and desserts and vary the portions accordingly. Any one of several methods is used for brewing the coffee fresh: the paper filter method in an electric coffee maker or stove-top glass cone. Structuring the main meal in courses is both a typical practice and also an ideal for eating well. People sometimes add a pinch of salt. If a meal is abbreviated on a busy weeknight—say. A rich. For the morning meal adults drink café au lait.

including many of the American brands. break for la collation du matin. people do not eat a large breakfast.Typical Meals 107 cinnamon. MORNING SNACK Children begin the school day at 8:30 A. In recent years tea has become more popular.M. honey. An effort is made to provide foods that are considered healthful and appropriate for the late morning: bread and cheese. fruit yogurt. It is the hot milk in the café au lait or café crème that is considered the nourishing part of the breakfast. In cities.. is served in a demi-tasse . also called un petit café or un petit noir. but le brunch is considered an exotic meal. On late weekend mornings.M. Restaurant-style machines for making coffee by steam pressure are available for use at home. or a spoon of cocoa powder to the ground coffee to vary or balance the flavor. The healthconscious add a glass of fruit juice or a serving of yogurt to their breakfast. Dunking the bread or pastry into the coffee is a beloved practice. a few restaurants serve brunch. Processed cereals such as corn flakes or puffed rice eaten with cold milk are now popular enough that grocery stores stock them. the small amount of food eaten for breakfast accompanies the café au lait. quite out of the ordinary. Alternatively. The snack is brought from home. or Nutella to make a tartine. with its pleasing dark brown color and nutty flavor. Children drink hot chocolate. Un café. For weekend breakfasts or a special treat. a small sandwich made of buttered bread with a slice of ham. although it is not considered a sustaining beverage. pastry such as croissants or brioche (from yeasted dough enriched with butter) replaces plain bread. The depth and large diameter of the café au lait bowl are accommodating for this purpose. such as a section of baguette spread with butter. jam. any coffee drunk at other times of day is taken without milk. into their morning hot milk. and at about 10:30 A. is eaten along with the coffee. instant coffee such as Nescafé is dissolved by stirring into hot milk. but simply drink coffee or nothing at all and eat a regular lunch. the morning snack. Those who seek to avoid caffeine stir powdered roasted chicory root. A piece of bread. and these are well liked by connoisseurs. After the breakfast café au lait. COFFEE BREAKS Working people and students take a break (une pause) in the morning or afternoon to drink small cups of strong coffee. or a piece of fruit such as an apple. or it may be provided by the parents of each child for the whole class on a rotating schedule.

hot meal. as food is. that is. but rather as revivifying. Recent demographic and nutritional information has led to changed recommendations. there is some variation in these times across the country. and the school lunch was often extremely simple. of course.M. Starting in the early 1970s.. In cafés. like businesses. or until 2:00 P.e. The few sips of strong coffee are considered outside the range of foods and meals. or allongé (“stretched out”). About 66 percent of primary school children take lunch at school.108 Food Culture in France (“half-cup. however.M. By law emanating from the Ministry of Education. or family. to 1:30 P. have a cantine or cafeteria that provides a full. It is taken plain or with sugar.. so that a bit of leisure is built into the work day. The break is long enough to allow for a relaxed meal and for socializing with colleagues. cups of coffee can be purchased from vending machines that grind the beans and brew a fresh cup. if one is in a hurry. Since the break is substantial.M. stronger and smaller. Both parents must provide proof of their employment status. so that their child qualifies to eat lunch at school. or hired by the school from a catering company. made with more water. with schools scheduling a full two hours for the mid-day meal and pause and many businesses allowing a similar break.M.” i. friends. As of the . if the day ends at 5 P. with less water used relative to the amount of ground coffee. to accommodate parents’ work schedules. This ruling was based on the assumption that children ate the main meal at home in the evening. or if the coffee is being made at home with a restaurantstyle machine. either prepared on the premises if there is a full kitchen facility. a very small cup).M. and at airports and highway rest stops. The small coffees are not seen as nourishing. such as a cold plate of sandwiches or charcuterie. At many businesses and high schools. LUNCH Lunch is between noon and about 2 P. the work day and school day extend relatively late into the afternoon. a coffee can be drunk standing up at a counter. Schools. schools are required to provide lunch for children whose parents both work or whose parents are unemployed but seeking work. according to taste. In a café. public schools were required to provide half of the day’s nutritional requirements through the school lunch. Lunch at School Primary schools schedule the lunch break from about 11:30 A. it is common to specify a preference for coffee that is serré (dense). or at a more leisurely pace sitting at a table..

The educational effort extends even to the adult population. official statements from the Ministry of Education have noted the importance of meals for education.Typical Meals 109 year 2000. and the regional authority takes on responsibility for high school meals. Since the early 1980s. cooking.4 The establishment of the Week of Taste owes much to the corporate interests that. following the current norm. School lunches vary in character and quality. Culinary Heritage in Schools If ideological concerns shape the school lunch. Professional chefs leave their restaurants to teach lessons about food. During the Semaine du goût. they learn to understand and appreciate food. and bread.” how to eat a “proper” meal. a meat or fish dish accompanied by cooked vegetables. Thus school meals are legislated as sites for taste education. however. the municipal jurisdiction or city oversees lunch preparations. In learning to eat balanced meals. Generally. it is assumed that the rest comes from breakfast (20 percent). The school lunch is a topic of ongoing debate. the annual Semaine du goût or Week of Taste held every October since 1991 represents another means of promoting culinary and gastronomic education in schools. according to organization at the local level. In learning how to eat “well. restaurants offer traditional meals at reduced prices.3 In theory the school meal serves more than simply the nutritional needs of children and adolescents. school lunches must provide 40 percent of daily nutritional needs. school lunch consists of an entrée of a salad or vegetable. At issue today are interest in organizing cantines to include local and regional foods. and dinner (30 percent). perceived as insufficiently knowledgeable in the culinary heritage of their own country. to what degree schools should cater to students unable to eat the standard fare because of religious background. children develop social and communication skills. At table. and eating in public secondary schools. and the need to balance nutritional concerns with commercial pressures. they learn principles for maintaining good health and understanding food safety. It also betrays concerns about the demise of national cultural identity in the era of Europeanization and . underwrite the effort. a snack (10 percent). In primary schools and nursery schools. a dessert. A prevalent worry is how to promote milk and water over soft drinks and to ensure that children consume adequate fresh fruits and vegetables and avoid too much fat and sugar. which in turn assists in the development of a national identity and to maintain the culture. along with the government. The département or prefecture is in charge of organizing meals for secondary schools.

Another way that businesses subsidize their employees’ .110 Food Culture in France Butchers wearing the asymmetrical aprons of their trade distribute samples of roast beef during a school taste class. water and coffee. The cultivation of taste and the pleasure of eating well. commonly called the cantine (canteen). where the same meal would cost two to three times this price in a restaurant. cooked vegetables. Courtesy of Christian Verdet/regard public-unpact. One selects the components of a full meal. salads. Businesses of substantial enough size and nearly every large corporation have an in-house restaurant de l’entreprise (company restaurant). like reading and mathematics. where employees eat lunch. a hot main dish. Lunch in a company cantine is relatively inexpensive. yogurt. fruit. as companies subsidize meals there. wine and beer. The cantine is generally set up cafeteria-style. globalization. cheese. placing the dishes on a tray: bread. are a matter of education and should be accessible to all. An employee may pay in the neighborhood of 3 to 5 Euros for a full meal in the cantine. Lunch at Work Many businesses offer some sort of meal subsidy to employees as a benefit. Yet the Semaine du goût also manifests a democratic. Students are wearing the protective cleanroom garments that butchers put on when they break down carcasses. universalistic idea.

AFTERNOON SNACK Every day children look forward to the goûter or afternoon snack that marks their return home from school. a piece of freshly baked pastry. Employees purchase coupons from their companies at a discount. and conversationally catch up on the day’s news.. paying about 3 Euros for a coupon worth 5. reestablish contact after the separation of the afternoon or entire day. High-school students and adults may take a coffee or a cup of tea in the late afternoon. It is also a way for parents to welcome their children home after school. for example. or take lunch in a restaurant. or raisins). Snacking versus Eating Well Beyond the collation and goûter given to children.. The voucher is used like a traveler’s check in restaurants. To eat well (bien manger. timed to coincide with the end of the parents’ workday. At table people may . a crushed soft fresh fruit such as an apricot or peach sprinkled with a bit of sugar and eaten on a piece of toast. Eating when one is not hungry is seen as excessive. as children find the wait from lunch until dinner too long to tolerate comfortably. nuts. then sautéing in butter). To tempt the youthful sweet tooth there are any number of produits industriels (packaged or processed products). manger correctement) or to eat “normally” (manger normalement) means sticking to the three main meals. a piece of fruit that can be eaten out of hand. snacking in general is frowned on for adults. or a pastry. a yogurt. The snack is partially a matter of practical necessity. a tartine spread with jam or honey.M. If no cantine is available. at a traiteur or caterer’s to buy prepared food to take out. or in some areas as late as 5:00 or 6:00 P. The goûter is similar to the morning collation. eating a variety of foods thought to be reasonably healthful. or to purchase food from the charcutier and in other food shops. return home. and perhaps an apple. and a glass of fruit juice or milk. from biscuits (plain butter cookies or the same thing covered with chocolate) and gâteaux (individual portions of sponge cake with chocolate) to Kinder (the brand name and generic moniker of chocolate covered wafers. people bring lunch from home.M. Schools and the garderie (child care) usually let out at 4:30 P. or “lost” stale bread that is brought back to life by soaking in eggs and milk. as one of several ways of eating poorly. but is more likely to consist of something sweet: bread and a piece of chocolate or some Nutella. pain perdu (French toast.Typical Meals 111 meals is through the ticket-restaurant. and eating in moderation. a tartine.

salt. Some sort of food accompanies the apéritif. is seen as unnecessary. baked savory biscuits. as if to excuse themselves even as they draw attention to the indulgence as exceptional. has meant a knowledgeable eater. even antisocial. broiling. On busy weekdays. At home. Yet the term derives from gourmandise or gluttony. Since the late eighteenth century. in recent years. and pepper and served with some purée (mash) of broccoli or potatoes. is enjoyed as an overture to conversation. like the later word gastronome. A typical weekday dinner might begin with a salad of grated carrots dressed with mustard vinaigrette. but for more leisurely meals on weekends or holidays. gourmand. pastis. one of the Seven Deadly Sins of the Catholic tradition. Eating outside the setting of the large regular meals of lunch and dinner. The word is significant. Nonetheless. Favorite appetizers include toasts or thin slices of bread with rillettes or rounds of sliced hard sausage. and finish with a green salad and a piece of cheese. Apéritif Drinking an apéritif or cocktail before a full meal. and gougères (baked cheese puffs). the preference is for fast cooking methods. Many families . progress to a portion of sautéed onglet (similar to hangar steak) garnished with butter. as well as fillets of firm-fleshed fish. a kir or sweet white wine such as Muscat or Monbazillac may be served chilled. such as steaks and chops. the apéritif or apéro often falls by the wayside. searing. whether lunch or (more commonly) dinner. such as salmon and tuna. or snacking. Children drink a sirop such as mint or barley syrup poured over ice and mixed with water. such as sautéing. as eating patterns change to accommodate long commutes and intensively scheduled work days. the practice of snacking has increased. that they are eating par gourmandise. In summer. and grilling. WEEKDAY DINNER Busy schedules during the week contribute to the preference for dishes that are relatively quick and simple to prepare and to some abbreviation of the full sequence of courses.112 Food Culture in France sociably announce as they help themselves to an extra serving of a wellliked dish. some combination of greed and pleasure. whiskey. but the onus connected with it has not diminished. it is a welcome opening act to a full meal. a small piece of pissaladière (Provençal pizza topped with caramelized onions). and for foodstuffs that respond well to these methods. Bread is eaten throughout the meal to accompany each course. and mixed drinks are all standard apéritifs for adults. as well as for whetting the appetite.

small salted crackers. Weekend meals usually consist of the full range of courses and include a before-dinner drink. Blanquette de veau or d’agneau (white veal or lamb stew) is a dish that people make at home in the spring and for Easter Sunday. and a great deal of socializing takes place as everyone moves about the kitchen.Typical Meals 113 keep crunchy or salty foods on hand as appetizers to lay out in small bowls: olives. With a weekend party of family or friends. Saturday evening is often reserved for socializing with friends.5 Veal Stew (Blanquette de veau) • 2 pounds shoulder of veal • 1 large onion • 5 sprigs parsley • 10 peppercorns (whole) • 1/2 teaspoon salt • 5 cloves garlic • 4 cups water • 12 pearl onions. Some of the more elaborate dishes make large quantities of food that require a greater number of eaters to consume them. peeled and sliced into rounds . peeled • 5 carrots. peanuts or cashews. there are more hands to help out. WEEKEND MEALS: SATURDAY DINNER AND SUNDAY LUNCH On the weekend there is more time to create elaborate meals and use slower cooking methods and to linger over the meal with family and friends. The invitation to prendre un verre or prendre un pot (go out for a drink) is social and understood to mean a drink taken together before dinner. Both are likely to be cooked and eaten at a leisurely pace and in a festive atmosphere. A roast leg of lamb studded with slivers of garlic and rubbed with rosemary branches and served with baked white haricot beans. It is also common to go out for a predinner drink with friends or family before moving on to dinner at a restaurant or returning home to eat. are typical centerpieces for weekend meals. but this custom is hardly observed anymore. chips. including browning the meat before adding the liquid. Many city dwellers will leave town for the day if not the whole weekend. to stay at a second residence or to visit extended family. The dish has many variations. and Sunday lunch is traditionally a meal taken with family. or a chicken roasted on a bed of sliced onions and carrots. Historically. fish was eaten on Friday evenings for religious reasons. despite the name blanquette.

turnips. or lamb. Other traditional preparations having any number of regional variations include daube (beef stew). onions. Afterward. A very large pot or multiple pots are required to hold the ingredients. and pearl onions to a serving dish. the meats are sliced and arranged on platters. chicken. Add the pearl onions and carrots. Pot-au-feu (“pot on the fire”) derives its flavor from the combination of three or more whole cuts of meat that are cooked together with a few vegetables and herbs. which adds to the sense of occasion. such as ham. Enjoy the stew hot with rice or boiled potatoes. garlic. which usually include a combination of fattier and leaner meats. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the meat. outdoor barbecues are popular for weekend gatherings. Vegetables added to the pot include carrots. then simmer until it reduces by about one-third. then pour the sauce over the meat. preserved duck (confit de carnard). pork sausage. and tailbones (oxtail) or a marrow bone. and simmer 15 minutes more. Beat the eggs yolks and cream together. Regional variations add other meats than beef. such as flank. Bring to a boil. salt. and leeks. a slow-simmered poule-au-pot (stuffed chicken stewed with vegetables). veal. Arrange the cooked mushrooms on top as a garnish. cleaned and sliced. parsley. continuing to stir over very gentle heat until the sauce thickens. Parsley or the selection of herbs called bouquet garni is added as well. The flavorful broth is served as a first course. celery. Strain the broth. bacon. The water should just cover the other ingredients. Reduce the heat under the broth so it nearly stops simmering. It should not boil. for a main course consisting of grilled meats such as spicy merguez. and pot-au-feu (mixed boiled meats). then sautéed in butter Cut the veal into 2-inch pieces. A weekend meal often ends with a bought pastry such as a cake or fruit tart from a pâtissier. then reduce heat and simmer gently for 60 minutes. Stir a ladle of broth into the egg yolks and cream to temper the mixture. peppercorns. then pour it into the reduced broth. Taste for seasoning. and served moistened with a bit of the cooking . sirloin. carrots. potatoes. onion. Place the veal. Test to make sure the veal is tender. and steaks. In the summer. Stir in the lemon juice.114 • • • • Food Culture in France 2 teaspoons lemon juice 2 large egg yolks 1/2 cup heavy cream 1/2 pound mushrooms. and water in a saucepan.

pigs’ feet boiled then roasted to a golden brown in the oven. salty. such as a cold salad or a baked meat tourte. people may make a very late meal at home or eat in one of the relatively few restaurants that keep late hours. or a cold plate of local charcuterie. and it is certainly a symbol for the successful middle-class lifestyle. and small glasses of after-dinner liqueurs. After the meal. coffee may be offered. A late souper or supper may consist of nearly anything: a dish of pasta or a composed salad made at home. capers. mild. there may be little extra ceremony. Wine is considered an essential component of a good meal. Simple Onion Soup (Soupe à l’oignon) • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter • 6 cups coarsely chopped onion • 3 1/2 cups water or broth • 1/2 cup white wine • salt • pepper . Inevitably pot-au-feu gives leftovers that can be reheated for another meal or transformed into other dishes. will be selected in anticipation of having guests. The tender. or sour condiments: mustard. coarse sea salt. The full sequence of courses will be carefully prepared and attention given to buy the best ingredients. The extra effort is made out of respect for the guest but also to do honor to the hosts. this is a treasured sign of intimacy. and so on that the hosts can afford. richly succulent meat is balanced with pungent.Typical Meals 115 broth. Although water is the most common beverage at the dinner table. ENTERTAINING AT HOME: MEALS FOR GUESTS When close friends are invited to share the regular family meal. In other cases. grated horseradish. the specialty of a favorite late-night bistro. be it oysters on the half-shell. The same principle of balance that guides the choices of foods in a meal also applies to selecting pairings of wine and food. as well as other alcohols. cheeses. a bottle or bottles of wine. LATE SUPPERS After going out to the movies or the theatre. A hot soup such as onion is appreciated as a restorative at any hour of the night after going out. or after a day of skiing during a winter vacation. cornichons (small sharp pickles). all stops are pulled for guests invited into the home.

and simmer gently for 45 minutes. Adam Sage. 1994). and Michele Aulagnon and Vincent Charbonnier. cover. until golden. 3. Bake 20 minutes at 450° F to melt and brown the cheese. ladle the soup into individual ramekins or a tureen that can go in the oven.” Le Monde (October 15. “French turn up noses at their own food. eds. “La Semaine du goût. “La quatrième édition de la semaine du goût. Uncover the pot. Raise the heat to medium to bring the mixture to a simmer.” pp. 373–87 in Marc Jacobs and Peter Scholliers. Ladle on the onion broth. 2. Toward the end of cooking they should form a soft mass and be uniformly brown in color. 1993). . Claude Grignon. Jean-Louis Flandrin. For the croutons. Le Temps de manger: Alimentation. 197–225 in Maurice Aymard. preferably a dense-crumbed. 2002). crusty variety • 1/4 cup olive oil • 3 cups Gruyère cheese.” The Times of London (October 14.” pp.116 Food Culture in France • 6 slices of day-old bread. Brush the bread slices with olive oil. Eating Out in Europe (Oxford: Berg.” Le Monde (October 20. preheat the oven to 350° F. Jean Claude Ribaut. and Françoise Sabban. Grignon. 275–323 in Aymard. 1993). Or. place on a baking sheet. 1994).” pp. 2003). Add the water or broth and the wine. 4. and cook for about 45 minutes. Jean-Louis Flandrin. place a crouton in the bottom of each soup bowl. Add the onions. Serve bubbling hot. “Parlons goût” and “À palais ouverts. To serve the soup. 2000). melt the butter over low heat. and sprinkle on the grated cheese to garnish. eds. 5. preface by Patrick Rambourg (Paris: Jean-Paul Rocher. Season to taste with salt and pepper. “Eating at School in France: An Anthropological Analysis of the Dynamics and Issues Involved in Implementing Public Policy. NOTES 1. la mode et le travail: La genèse social du modèle des repas français contemporain. “La règle. Claude Grignon. stirring occasionally.. and Sabban. emploi du temps et rythmes sociaux (Paris: Editions de la Maison des sciences de l’homme and INRA. if you prefer.” Le Monde (October 23. “Les heures des repas en France avant le XIXe siècle. La blanquette de veau: Histoire d’un plat bourgeois. and bake about 10 minutes.. grated In a saucepan. Isabelle Téchoueyres.

Between 1970 and 1990. household spending on eating out increased .25 percent. Nonetheless. especially in urban areas. from fine restaurants gastronomiques to fast-food restaurants and chains. yet traditions of eating out go back centuries. novelty establishments where the interest lies as much with atmosphere as with food. and expenditure for food to be eaten at home fell by a full 7 percent.1 In the past. Traditional or regional bills of fare. if not as quickly as in some affluent nations. such as the United Kingdom. the trend to take meals outside of the home increases perceptibly in France. or one meal out every three days. The current practice of taking meals in commercial restaurants is the result of affluence and the incursion of work into mealtime. and the practice is typical. and fast food and chains contribute to the restaurant scene.5 Eating Out Eating at home is the norm for most people on most days. .7 billion meals in cafeterias and other collective settings and 4.6 billion in commercial restaurants. The French do not eat outside of the home as frequently as residents of some nations with a comparable standard of living. Restaurant offerings are varied. cuisines from other nations and cultures. At present. the wish for social interaction. the lack of space and tools for cooking. Of these people ate 3. the average is 120 meals outside of the home yearly. An estimate from 2004 calculated 9 billion meals out taken annually. and the need for a public location to transact business motivated people to eat outside of the home.

During the summer. Crêpes with a choice of fillings—sugar. In the cities of the South. cold stands or trucks for ice cream are popular among children. the favorite sandwich is pan bagnat. Regions have their own specialties that vendors sell at stands. or from narrow windows and counters that open up directly onto the street. baguette filled with tuna. . nutty-flavored savory pancake made of chickpea flour that is served up blistering hot directly from a round griddle. crème de marrons (chestnut cream). tomato wedges. purée de pommes (thick. black olives. never lack for food to tempt those on foot. Pizza can also be purchased from stationary trucks. boulangeries open up their storefronts to display squares of pizza and triangles of quiche.118 Food Culture in France STREET FOODS Although it is not necessary for most people today to eat in the street. jam-like apple sauce)—can be purchased in the street. In parks. and slices of hard boiled egg. in particular. Courtesy of Janine Depoil. urban areas. the whole richly The sign for Jean-Pierre Coumont’s ice-cream and sorbet in Saint Tropez (Var) indicates that they are hand-made by the sellers using pure fruits and no food colorings. out of trucks. ice cream stores open windows that face onto the street so that one can line up for a cone. Nutella. In the summer. Niç ois socca is the delicate-textured.

usually baguette) and pastries such as croissants along with café crème. More commonly. atmosphere in some cafés is typically enhanced by clouds of cigarette smoke. the barrier dividing the two being quite imaginary and certainly ineffective. and tomato are usually on hand. although levels of smoking are on the decline. RESTAURANTS. Today there is little that is more typical than to sit in a café to talk with friends. one chooses a bottled juice. The term bistro (or bistrot) is thought to have appeared in the 1880s. Many cafés serve wine. one peels away the waxed paper wrapping that contains the juices. and restaurants and cafés are obliged to provide space for non-fumeurs. read the paper. as one eats. the opening of Starbucks cafés has added a new variety of chain. syrups. apple. however. The interdiction is seen by many as an infringement on personal freedom. along with the possibility of taking away oversized paper cups of the American-style coffee made to any number of untraditional specifications: decaffeinated. mixed with soy. grungy. whole. or a regular Sunday afternoon bingo game that neighborhood residents attend. During the cold months in the North. or studious atmosphere. apricot. Its etymology is unclear. or simply watch people and the world go by. The fusty. hot coffee mixed with heated milk. vendors sell hot roasted or boiled chestnuts and paper cones of freshly toasted peanuts made crunchy with delicately caramelized sugar. A more old-fashioned sort of café may have a football table for baby-foot. or skim milk. and some choice of food.2 In recent years. and fruit juices. BISTROS. Smoking in public places has been illegal since 1992. The latter may be freshly squeezed from citrus fruits such as oranges or lemons. AND BRASSERIES Types of restaurants that emerged in the last quarter of the nineteenth century shape today’s culture of eating out. They all serve coffee and some choice of soft drinks. In practice. CAFÉS As variations on earlier establishments. nonsmokers are often seated right next to fumeurs (smokers). alcohols. Cafés may have an elegant. whether small savory dishes or a selection of pastries. or comfortable. The habit of smoking sociably while drinking and even eating dies hard. often they are simple and unpretentious. cafés and restaurants emerged during the early modern era. beer. It may . chic. a lane for bowling running the length of the café. Cafés open early in the morning serve tartines (buttered bread. flavored.Eating Out 119 laced with olive oil.

braised chicken or pintade (Guinea fowl) with tarragon sauce. roast chicken. Brasseries that offer literally hundreds of different bottled and draft beers are sometimes referred to as bars belges (Belgian bars). beer on tap) and sometimes hard cider. and baeckeoffe (a stew with thinly sliced peeled potatoes and a mixture of beef. increasing in number after the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 and the development of the train line linking Strasbourg to Paris. These natives of the Auvergne initially came to Paris to sell coal mined in their region. and lamb). a contemporary brasserie is a café or a restaurant that serves drinks. along with a limited menu. choucroute (sauerkraut). few brasseries brew their own beer. purée de pommes de terre (mashed potatoes). coal burner or porter. then ended up running restaurants (including the famous Brasserie Lipp and the Café de Flore) and forming a tightly supportive community of regional expatriates based in the capital. . charbougna in the Auvergnat patois). pork. and a brasserie was a brewery where one went primarily to drink beer. especially bière à la pression (draft beer. Since the late nineteenth century many Parisian bistros and cafés have been run by bougnats (from charbonnier. Brasser means to brew beer. sole meunière. Brasseries appeared during the Second Empire. tarte Tatin (caramelized upside-down apple tart). The term bistouille used in the North to mean a hearty mixture of brandy and hot coffee is a more likely source. Rather. bistros have been restaurants that serve alcohols and a relatively small selection of foods for one-course meals. brasseries tend to stay open later than restaurants. or seared steak served with French fried potatoes on the side. There is a strong association to this term with a warm. Many have a distinctly Germanic or Flemish flair. Bistros and restaurants have their own specialties or regional inflections. such as the bouchon in Lyon and winstub in the Alsace region. steak-frites.120 Food Culture in France derive from the injunction to hurry (bystra) up the food that Russians in Paris spoke to waiters. but standard popular items include such classics as oysters on the half-shell. comfortable. flammekeuche (a thin crust like that of a pizza topped with caramelized onion and bits of bacon). Today. unpretentious atmosphere. A brasserie alsacienne serving food will offer Alsatian specialties such as cooked sausages. moules marinières (mussels cooked in the shell in a light broth flavored with white wine). Because of the focus on drinking. although a recent trend that blurs this characteristic is for very chic restaurants to call themselves bistros. The term bistro is now used throughout the country for a restaurant. omelets. Historically. poire à la belle Hélène or a poached pear served with vanilla ice cream and decorated with chocolate sauce. steak tartare. Some began selling wine. The typical Parisian establishment also has its counterparts in the homey local places for other cities or regions.

and soup through the labyrinth of trenches directly to the front line. and bread. Canned and jarred goods had met with a largely negative reaction throughout the nineteenth century. wine. good restaurants and the finest restaurants gastronomiques or restaurants gourmands are to be found all over the country. however. or specialized army cooks. Buffets de la gare and cafés de la gare became fixtures in train stations. in the north and west of France. military doctors intervened. and Biarritz. not vegetable stew) a couple of times each week. Vivandiers. The diet varied with geography and the circumstances of the hosts who “offered” them bed and board. During the Middle Ages. Most soldiers subsisted primarily on soup and had to share mess kits. eggs. while sutlers tagged along behind to sell foodstuffs directly to soldiers. Nice. beans. The new modes of transportation. made fashionable other locations such as Cannes. soldiers ate meat. common soldiers in addition to mercenaries became more numerous in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. in the countryside and in smaller towns as well as in the cities. Restaurants serving regional specialties and located far from the capital came into fashion. The turn of the century witnessed the spectacular collaborations between chef Auguste Escoffier and the enterprising Swiss hotelier César Ritz. adding ratatouilles (which in this context signified meat stews or ragoûts. Paris still had the lion’s share of elegant dining spots. During the belle époque and by the start of the twentieth century. and dairy products on lean days. During the lengthy Wars of Religion in the sixteenth century.3 Now the . where Napoleon III and the Empress Eugénie regularly wintered. in fact a compulsory gesture. the daily experience of eating outside the home has taken place in a collective setting such as an army mess hall or a cafeteria in school or at work. Today. appeared in the eighteenth century. and more variations on the restaurant theme. the growth of tourism. Eventually.Eating Out 121 The rise of trains and then automobiles encouraged travel. substituting fish (including stockfisch). The pressing need to provision troops constantly on the move under Napoleon was answered by Nicolas Appert’s development of sterile jarring techniques. Where waging war had long been the prerogative of the aristocracy. highend restaurants appeared in the grand hotels. both private and military cooks and suppliers carried bread. later perfected with cans. The late sixteenth century saw the organization of internal units whose task was specifically to provision troops. crusaders were quartered in the towns on their routes. In the notoriously abysmal conditions of the First World War. rice. MESS HALLS AND CAFETERIAS For many.

about 56 percent of meals taken outside the home are taken in an institutional cafeteria. not to mention intellectual exchange. so that the student ate a home-cooked hot meal. As a result of the imposed silence and the exigencies of keeping one’s thoughts to sacred themes. Through the early years of the Third Republic (1870–1940). The reformist. such as cabbage. conviviality. During the sixteenth century.122 Food Culture in France appearance of a jar of jam or a can of sardines boosted the morale of the beleaguered troops. for instance to request the bread. For centuries. presumably was martyred at the table. on the other. food in schools varied greatly. students were deprived of the morning meal. One was not to cultivate the art of conversation. whether of gruel.4 Most often school meals were vegetable soups. on the one hand. with much attention paid to fast days including the long month of Lent and every Friday. Communication was reduced to a sign language specific to the table. Today. It is easy to overlook the central role that cantines—cafeterias in collective settings—have played in daily life for the last century. however. People often have the mistaken impression that taking a meal in a cafeteria is somehow an exceptional practice. Even in a wealthy school. In some medieval collèges. progressive principles took their effects . but rather to keep silent throughout the meal while listening to a theological reading. Eating out as a student has ever been a conundrum: one is poor and always hungry. This could be placed on the stove for a few minutes at mid-day. cooking up miracles for French officers participating in the Franco-Prussian conflict of 1870. and bread. the bursar might divert meal allowances to other purposes. This is due to the prestige of fine dining and commercial restaurants. however.5 Through the end of the nineteenth century. educational institutions were run by the Church. the student’s life was sedentary. the collèges instituted tables for 16 or 25 students in a salle commune. or stew. soup. and the ideal of the family meal at home. The French. and 26 percent at hospitals and services related to hospitals. 34 percent at schools. Officers fared better than their troops. as a young man Auguste Escoffier began his career in the field.6 The development of cafeterias owes to notions of equality traceable to the Revolution of 1789 and to the sense of secular social mission and conception of the public good that was cultivated during the Third and Fourth Republics. rely more on cafeterias than any other nation in Europe. with 40 percent of those meals at businesses. in contrast with the physically extenuating activities of the laborer. the best-fed pupils were often those who could afford to bring a gamelle (metal lunch-pail) from home. to the detriment of the pupils’ palettes and stomachs. as there was little in the way of dietary standards or accountability.

Beginning in 1967. albeit slowly. As cafeterias became common. the practice of bringing food to school from home declined. most students take the midday meal at school. Schools had to balance issues of cost and efficiency with the wish to highlight typical regional dishes and the need to serve balanced and nutritious meals. there must at least be a designated space for doing so. Cooperative food stores for workers appeared in the late 1830s. With the allocation of school budgets for cafeterias came strong associations with local politics. then. however. however. companies that did not run cafeterias began to offer meal vouchers for use in commercial restaurants. The Aubry Law of 1998 reduced the workweek to a maximum of 35 hours for private companies having more than 20 employees. as an alternative benefit. was conceived as social intervention on a national scale. their use peaked in the late 1970s and has been declining. Measuring in terms of the percentage of total meals taken in cafeterias. the government encouraged schools to provide warm meals to needy students during the cold months of the school year. After the Second World War and the associated problems of malnutrition. Today. it became a matter of necessity for students and workers to eat lunch at school or work.7 Not until 1913. Cafeterias originated to provide a benefit to workers. Since the 1980s. The cafeterias that now serve lunch in nearly every sizeable business grew out of the development of labor unions and codes of workers’ rights. cafeterias are subject to lower levels of the TVA or taxe à la valeur ajoutée (VAT or value added tax) than applies to restaurants. did a law decree that companies having at least 25 employees who wished to eat at work must provide an eating area. and workers’ cooperative restaurants organized by trade date to 1848. This automatically excluded at least one cafeteria meal from many schedules. their . Cafeterias took on a new importance in reestablishing the nation’s health and by extension its economic vitality. and this savings is passed on to workers. liberal or capitalist economic practices have replaced some socialist and protectionist ones. the Ferry Law mandated that a public school education be made available to all children. a student must demonstrate the need for a school lunch with formal attestations that his or her parents work or are seeking work and are thus unavailable at mid-day to provide lunch at home.Eating Out 123 in both schools and business settings. The cafeteria. such that companies may view maintaining cafeterias as an unnecessary expense. The public schools are administered by municipalities. As nonprofits. In 1881. As a practical proviso. If fewer than 25 employees wished to eat at work. Thereafter an emendation required that this location be outfitted for reheating food. Ironically.

The Michelin stars are still the most widely recognized. in the form of a star to indicate a good table. a rating system for restaurants was introduced. of laurels for restaurants. if now also deeply controversial. A single star indicates une très bonne table. the Guide Michelin soon came to mention food and wine specialties for each region. Two stars go to a restaurant that vaut le détour (is “worth the detour”) off of the main highway. The title echoes that of the Tour de France bicycle race established in the late nineteenth century. A few years later and with a different . based in Clermont-Ferrand. for eating in the cafeteria keeps employees in the workplace and discourages lingering over lunch in a leisurely manner. The coveted third star indicates a menu of such quality that the restaurant is a worthy travel destination all by itself. and the first descriptive restaurant guide published in the early nineteenth century. In 1926. Concurrent to the establishment of the Michelin rating system. the tire company Michelin. resulting in less use of military cafeterias. The further distinctions of two and three stars appeared in the early 1930s. In 1900.124 Food Culture in France presence on a company campus or in an office is sometimes now felt as a constraint. Gastronomic tourism was now established as a serious undertaking. a “very good” table in the elite category. the novelist Marcel Rouff and journalist and food writer Curnonsky (Maurice Edmond Sailland) assembled the Tour de France Gastronomique published in 24 volumes between 1921 and 1928. The rankings of the Guide Michelin (today called the Guide Rouge) are defined relative to the road. and guidebooks such as the Guide Joanne circulated widely in the nineteenth century.and eighteenth-century almanacs that listed boutiques and then restaurants. The year of army service used to be obligatory for young men finishing their secondary education. and the comprehensive scope is suggestive. but mandatory conscription ended in 1997. Following seventeenth. In response. and there was much to know about the culinary subcultures within the country. the large companies are evolving by catering for sports matches and tournaments. for festivals or holidays having parades and other outdoor events. Published travel accounts had been popular since the eighteenth century. with important consequences for eating out. and also by providing branded items for companies. established a new Guide pour les chauffeurs et les vélocipédistes (Guide for Drivers and Cyclists) to promote the automobile tourism that would increase their profits. EATING OUT AND THE CULINARY HERITAGE Interest in food as connected with particularities of place took on an especially clear definition in the twentieth century.

Trésor means an investment. or principle worth preserving (here. a set of 22 volumes that take “culinary inventory” of the country by region.”8 During the next decade. One should. an initiative sponsored jointly by the state and various corporations began bringing chefs into schools for the annual fall Semaine du goût (Week of Taste) that gives children a practical course under professional supervision in eating traditional foods. Since 1993. the Malraux Law of 1962 was further designed to encourage cultural activity across the nation. Underpinning the ministry and legislation was the deep respect for the past. The state. printed roadmaps and posted signs on highways throughout the country indicate national Sites remarquables du goût (Taste Sites Worthy of Note) as attractions for travelers and tourists. as part of the economic and cultural rebuilding that followed the Second World War. and it may be said to pursue a . as in the Plat du terroir (Terroir Dishes) initiative begun in 1985. whether French or foreign nationals. During the second half of the twentieth century. a strong sense of appréciation or understanding combined with enjoyment. and the conviction that government intervention is necessary to foster and protect culture. the title is telling. In the 1950s. His charge was to promote the héritage or patrimoine culturel (national cultural heritage). The idea was to expose as many individuals as possible to the riches of French culture and to ensure the creation of artistic and intellectual works that would continue to enrich it. Curnonsky published another work on the same topic entitled the Trésor gastronomique de la France (1933). To avoid the usual Parisian bias. note the fascination and bankability of the varied food and food customs of the entire country. as well as the sense of history.Eating Out 125 collaborator (Augustin Croze). the gastronomic “treasury”). invests in the institutionalization of the culinary heritage and in the promotion of quality. The document proclaimed the goal to acquaint not only visitors and foreigners but also French citizens themselves—who may be ignorant of their own culture—with aspects of the patrimoine and specifically with “the varied palette of our tables. in short. an undiscovered or unexpected windfall (as in hidden treasure). Again. and a place where riches are kept. food and food mores increasingly became the focus of legislation that sought to institutionalize cultural practice. These attitudes would soon be specifically extended to food culture. capital. then. The charter for this undertaking noted the “incomparable” richness of France’s culinary cultures. The state commissioned the publication of the Inventaire culinaire du patrimoine de la France (1992–1996). Charles de Gaulle appointed the novelist and diplomat André Malraux to head a new Ministère des affaires culturelles (Ministry of Cultural Affairs).

identifiable. Beyond the appreciation for what is fresh. The restaurant is. creativity. useful for business. the sociologist Claude Fischler has named the alternative the OCNI: objet comestible non identifié or Unidentified Comestible Object.126 Food Culture in France gastronomic and culinary policy. heavily commercialized. traditional.9 By this is meant the generic. a group of prominent chefs published a manifesto protesting “alien” and “exotic” combinations of flavors and foods. Specialty producers such as fine wine makers have long appreciated and often instigated the demand for distinguishing marks of authenticity. or identifying elements of culture as part of the heritage and then fulfilling the corresponding obligations to preserve them. today the source of ongoing tension within the country and. The process of patrimonialisation. . Eating dinner in a typical. Inevitably. the prevailing response is pride in the culture. the habitual practices and the self-consciously elaborated ones overlap and become closely intertwined. a sense of belonging and participation. a feeling of alienation results. of terroir. Thanks to careful packaging and marketing. with other nations in the European Union and beyond. the tourist and export trades are notable beneficiaries. to serve commercial and political interests. The position is exaggerated. that passes for food. or the sense of being compelled to live in a museum. These chefs called for a return to terroir and presumably to some sort of ideal state of absolute Frenchness. During the 1990s. and AOC products can take extreme forms. Chefs in elite restaurants (restaurants gastronomiques) may make special efforts to incorporate local and AOC items into their menus. the effort to identify foodstuffs and thus to render transparent the links in the food chain responds to the general sense that it is better to know exactly what one is eating. The appreciation for local. These practices are also carefully cultivated. and in a few cases invented. can be felt to inhibit freedom. a site of culture if not historical preservation. yet has a clear resonance. The notions of regional cuisine and local specialty. There is great sympathy for this gesture. highly processed “product” with no visible history or origin. laws to protect health and safety. in the push and pull of daily life. For many people. With trenchant wit and insight. For others. or regional restaurant reifies and affirms one’s very Frenchness. and innovation. and of the patrimoine culinaire derive from real social practices and attitudes whose cultivation and preservation enrich the texture of daily life. and policies of agricultural protectionism. authenticity in the culinary domain has become a more than usually vexed question. It does so through specific legislation that complements regulation against fraud. notoriously. by association. As a result.

Restaurants and cafés are moreover much appreciated as settings for social interaction. In a country where eating well is a passion shared by so many.Eating Out 127 RESTAURANT RHYMES AND REASONS Few people today go out to eat because they lack facilities to cook at home. Busy work schedules make the option of being served dinner at the end of the day attractive. Because of the longstanding customs of eating out and the pervasive culture of socializing outside the home. Eating dinner weekly at a neighborhood bistro provides a sense of continuity and social connectedness. Courtesy of Arnold Matthews. and the home is viewed as an intimate. The motivations lie elsewhere. it is easy to find relatively inexpensive A typical Parisian brasserie with café-style tables for sitting outside. Gregariousness and conviviality are characteristic social traits. Yet close friendships require time to develop. Eating out with a new acquaintance or a friend allows social bonds to deepen in a neutral yet comfortable and inviting setting. Sampling a cuisine from another nation allows one to traverse continents simply by walking down the street. private space. one may return repeatedly to a restaurant to enjoy a favorite création de la maison (house specialty) or to test the latest invention of a particular chef. . Those traveling for business or having a long daily commute cannot eat at home.

and continue talking after the meal. bistro. it is common to order what is referred to as a menu or formule. Currently the most common terms for eating and drinking establishments are restaurant. although the beverage will more likely be a glass of wine or a beer. there is discussion as to the choice of wine. Similarly. After the meal. A café-restaurant stays open all day and perhaps into the late evening. people discuss what they are thinking of ordering and from which menu they will choose. Whether in a fancy restaurant or in a local café or bistro. some cafés serve food. It is assumed that people will take their time to eat. In practice. To serve food. When one is ready to leave the restaurant. Legally. It is considered courteous to order a similar sequence as one’s dinner companions (i. the various establishments may serve both food and alcoholic beverages. A selection of dishes is offered for each of two or three courses at a fixed price for the full meal.e. This would be viewed as quite rude. one requests the check from the waiter.. when one goes out. On the other hand. It is considered sociable to all drink the same thing and egotistical not to follow the general wishes of the group. items from within the three-course menu choices).128 Food Culture in France places where one can eat a good meal in pleasant surroundings. and most bistros and brasseries serve full meals.e. and so on. restaurants must register the types of items to be served. enjoy the pauses between courses. diamond-shaped label reading tabac that is stuck on the window) is licensed to serve as a tobacconist and sells cigarettes. l’addition (the check) is not brought to the table right away. brasserie. eating out has rituals all its own. it is only in a café that one may order as little as a coffee (i.. serving coffee and drinks between and after meals. Within families or groups of friends. However. A café-tabac marked with the carrotte (a red. With the appropriate licenses. the sale of beverages is regulated by licenses that specify a maximum allowed alcohol content per beverage. only a beverage) and do so between meals. BARS AND WINE BARS Restaurants and most cafés serve wine. Of course. so that the meal progresses according to a similar rhythm for everybody at the table. Especially in smaller restaurants. This is partially a matter of practicality. one goes to a “restaurant” to eat a full meal at noon or in the evening. and café. These are often used interchangeably. bars are not particularly central to social . the degree of involvement of personnel in food preparation and service. the sum is usually less than an à la carte total. As a result. many also serve beer and a selection of alcohols. this is also possible in some bistros and brasseries.

as are madeleines. Dipping one in a fragrant glass of lime (linden) tea. and for the British tradition of high tea. and by the health-conscious or those seeking to avoid the larger amounts of caffeine in coffee. tea is drunk by a few anglophiles. Some cafés that remain open late at night function then as bars de nuit and tend to serve almost exclusively wine. the author Marcel Proust was overwhelmed with strong memories of his childhood and proceeded to write the lengthy semiautobiographical novel À la recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Time Past. With the recent fashion for drinking high-quality wines. more women than men drink tea. 1913–1927). for the austere ritual elegance of Japanese customs of taking tea. and sometimes in large restaurants. Today. and alcohols during the evening hours. choosing from a list of different kinds of leaves. TEA SHOPS Salons de thé (tea rooms) are few in number but enjoy a faithful clientele. a slice of tart. the wine bar offers a broad selection of bottles and is designed for sampling good wines. The focus here is on tasting wine. and the ambience is fairly sophisticated. or one of the more refined forms of cookie.Eating Out 129 life for most people. Bars enjoyed a surge in popularity at the end of the nineteenth century. A selection of tisanes or herbal infusions is usually available as well. One orders a small pot of tea. Nonetheless. the word bar owes its derivation to the French term (une barre de comptoir) for the foot-rest close to the floor near a counter where one stands to take a drink or to eat. beer. takes a secondary role as an accompaniment to the wine. bars that are so called (un bar) serving only wine. Madeleines • 1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder • pinch salt . Macaroons are well liked. Much like the specialized brasseries that serve many varieties of beer. Among tea drinkers there is much admiration for the variety of Asian and Indian teas. but they declined as an institution during the Vichy period. Most tea shops have the distinctively French touch of the exquisite. when alcohol was temporarily deregulated. Today. some plain black teas may be flavored from the addition of bergamot oil or extract of violet or rose. a new type of bar à vin or wine bar is in vogue. which may be served in small portions in the style of Spanish tapas or Turkish mezes. in large hotels. beer. by the highly educated. the tea cakes having a scallop shape and that launched thousands of words. and drinks can be found in discos or nightclubs. Food. The complement for tea is a pastry.

Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl until they are fluffy and turn a pale. traditional regional . is not typically referred to as exotique. Preheat the oven to 350° F.130 • • • • Food Culture in France 3 large eggs 2/3 cup granulated sugar 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter. Sift together the flour. Bake for 12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the fat part of the little cakes comes clean. lemony yellow. Remove the cookies from the pans. At present. assimilation has also worked in the other direction or not at all. Makes about 3 dozen. filling each shell to two-thirds full. Indeed. and they are often applied to foreign cuisines associated with immigrants. A specialist in the sociology and anthropology of consumption points out that for some. The use of these terms reflects the longstanding expectation that integration into French society is effected through assimilation into the culture. melted and allowed to cool Note: Madeleines are baked in special forms that give them their distinctive shape. “EXOTIC” RESTAURANTS AND GLOBAL CUISINES The terms exotique (exotic) and sometimes éthnique (ethnic) are used for any kind of food. cooking. Clearly. It ranks just behind steak-frites (steak and French fried potatoes) and gigot d’agneau (roast leg of lamb) as a familiar. Add the lemon zest. then stir in the melted butter. familiar since the mid-twentieth century through the presence of immigrants from former colonies. Add the vanilla. Changes in eating habits as a result of dietary concerns and issues of convenience. the sense of the exotic varies according to perspective. reliable favorite. couscous is perceived as an everyday food. however. and set aside. and let them cool on a wire rack. Gradually fold in the flour mixture. Continue beating until the mixture doubles in volume. the large population of citizens and residents whose national or ethnic origins are not French makes the use of a term such as exotique unclear. and salt. or restaurant cuisine that is not traditionally French. make the term even more confusing. North African couscous. While continuing to beat the eggs. lightly brush the madeleine pans. With additional melted butter. Spoon in the batter. whether of French or other national origin. and familiarity with a variety of foods as a result of travel and the global market. gradually add the granulated sugar. baking powder.

Recently. Italian restaurants in France tend to specialize in pasta dishes and to serve individual. The establishment of Algerian.11 FAST-FOOD AND RESTAURANT CHAINS The rapid expansion of fast-food and chain restaurants began in the 1960s. in particular Columbia and Brazil. These establishments are distinguished by a formulaic list of choices. Moroccan. Varieties of North African restaurants and tea houses are relatively common and sometimes quite refined. Mali. as well as cities. Restaurants serving cuisines from outside the French territory are reasonably popular.10 It is useful to remember that foods such as tomatoes and potatoes that are now typical and essential in the regional cuisines are not native to French territory or even to Europe. thin-crusted pizzas taken as a main course dish. by and large undistinguished. in the Turkish restaurants. British or Irish pubs and Tex-Mex restaurants can be found in the large cities and in some university towns. Cameroon. These are working-class cafés operated and frequented by immigrants from Senegal. Lebanese. and also by populations from Congo. variety. and dessert. and rich history of the Chinese regional and provincial cuisines are comparable to those of France. They usually serve Cantonese and Hong Kong–style foods and organize menus according to the French sequence of entrée. Although the complexity. and the practice . the use of industrially prepared ingredients. and Vietnamese restaurants date to the independence of the respective colonies and protectorates. having open counters that double as kebab and sandwich stands. because they are not an accustomed part of the daily diet. are cafés sahéliens. this is not apparent in the restaurants. Typical. and Burkina. the nuances of Ottoman cuisine are hardly in evidence. Indian restaurants and Japanese restaurants that mainly serve sushi rather than cooked dishes are found in the large cities.Eating Out 131 dishes such as cassoulet or cuisses de grenouilles (frogs’ legs) are quite exotic. new imports have further expanded the choices especially in the larger cities. Greek and Turkish restaurants are often informal. sophistication. to include Tibetan food and the cuisines of South American nations. plat. if practically unknown beyond the reaches of the urban working-class neighborhoods where they are found. Thai restaurants are a relatively new addition and usually have carefully annotated menus to warn against spicy dishes. Chinese restaurants are quite familiar in suburban areas and small towns. and Mauritania who came to France starting in the 1960s and 1970s. Tunisian. to which most French eaters are not accustomed.

fast food restaurants are ubiquitous. from raw ingredients). and vacuum packed. The dishes are based on preassembled ingredients. Ingredients have been industrially processed and prepared. Today. As of 1998. Despite the culture of gastronomy and despite widely publicized and occasionally violent protests against the fast food restaurants.12 One researcher points out that this may be in part precisely because the fast-food chain restaurants allow one to flaunt conventions of good taste and eating well. Pizza Hut and Dominos. Following the principles borrowed from the United States of Frederick Taylor and Henry Ford. and the service is efficient. such as Quick and Flunch. Initially. Livraison à domicile (delivery) for pizza. these eating establishments flourish. The impact and initial strangeness of the phenomenon to French eaters can be measured in Claude Zidi’s film L’Aile ou la cuisse (1976). the restaurants were not popular. introduced by the American chains. three-course meals with traditional menus.5 percent of commercial restaurants. on the principle that one will want to eat a decent meal as a break from a long trip. and assembly. with some adjustments to the menu including the availability of wine and beer. a parody of the industrialist Jacques Borel. founder of the hospitality firm now called Accor.14 but one that has French imitators such as Speed Rabbit Pizza. or pizzeria chains. Fast-food pizza.13 The use of industrially prepared foods in cuisine d’assemblage has penetrated to many traditional commercial restaurants and has led to hybrids. and there were no real cooks. with just under one for every eight traditional cafés or restaurants. they undergo final stages of preparation. the cooking processes are broken down into simple procedures that are standardized and designed for maximum efficiency. is a late-blooming phenomenon. There are numerous French chains and fast food restaurants. but accounted for 20 percent of sales.132 Food Culture in France of a highly rationalized cuisine d’assemblage (“assembly cooking” rather than preparing food from scratch. chains represented 2. American chains including McDonald’s began opening stores in France in the early 1970s. The largest share of the market is divided between two American concerns. cooking (or heating). . In the restaurant. freeze-dried. Restaurants dating to the 1960s such as the Courtepaille chain found in roadside service areas on the national highways serve full. enjoy mixed success. The goal is to create products of consistent quality and that vary as little as possible from one outlet or franchise to the next. as the service was brusque and impersonal or else one had to serve oneself at a counter. the success of individual franchises varies by region and adaptation to the local population.

” The awkwardness of the word well conveys the extremely unusual nature of these restaurants. a small but growing number of restaurants have turned to creating establishments whose primary attraction is a nontraditional ambience of one sort or another. a fine dining establishment. quality. As if taking Barthes’s observation for advice. Courtesy of Philippe Bornier. or a fast food restaurant. to one’s emotional .Eating Out 133 Readying cooked carrots and peas for service. to one’s personal experience and reactions. whether in a cafeteria. For the last few years. LE FOODING AND NOVELTY RESTAURANTS The semiologist and astute interpreter of culture Roland Barthes observed that food can be a situation or an event. Nova magazine has been publishing a guide to fooding. in an eating culture that has long privileged tradition. A degree of standardization is essential in nearly any professional kitchen. and norms. Notable is the effort to translate the primary appeal of the new establishments to one’s individual sensations. a term coined by two journalists in 1999. The noun is manufactured from the English words “food” and “feeling.

An unobstructed view of the sky and a fresh breeze on the face are thought to enhance the meal. or a landscaped garden. Alternatively. The guide to fooding does not rate for price and quality according to the recognized grids of classical cuisine and mid–twentieth century nouvelle cuisine. Eating outside is felt to offer a break from the routine and doing so gives even a simple. such as in the mountains. Other portable picnic foods are made in advance or bought already prepared. everyday meal a festive feeling. or perhaps some variety of fusion food. In the seventeenth century.134 Food Culture in France state. EATING OUTSIDE The French love to eat outdoors. In the preindustrial era. during the summer. a shady glade. as much as eating the food. or on the ocean. The interest here is ambience and novelty. manger en pique-nique (to eat picnic style) meant pooling money to share the expense of an improvised meal. Favorites include roasted or rotisserie chickens. Le fooding appeals in particular to younger people open to seeking a social experience or the experience of a place for its own sake. .15 Now. picnics may be quite elaborate affairs. or that serve a “world food” cuisine. could make a party by having tables set up in a meadow. bio-végét (biologique-végétarien or organic and vegetarian). Terrace or courtyard tables are selling points for restaurants and cafés during mild weather. workers such as agricultural laborers often had to eat outdoors. Extensive coordination and planning are required to unite large numbers of family members and friends in natural locations considered to be beautiful and offering good air to breathe and an attractive view to admire. Cooking outside usually involves grilling or barbecuing fresh sausages and merguez. The aristocratic classes. near a river. Outdoor meals have a special appeal given that the contemporary lifestyle is primarily urban and that jobs keep people indoors and relatively sedentary. the association with an outdoor meal stabilized only in the mid-twentieth century. adding an extra dimension of enjoyment. picnics in parks are popular. Today. Rather. Its categories include restaus that are gay. on the other hand. People who have gardens or terraces set up tables even in tiny spaces. it lists nontraditional restaurants in categories that have more to do with personal identity or lifestyle. for the pleasure of being able to manger au dehors (eat outside). as an inexpensive mode of taking a vacation. A picnic may be an impromptu lunch consisting of no more than a jambon-beurre (slice of ham in buttered baguette) eaten outdoors. eating outside or in an attractive natural setting is a matter of choice. especially in the middle and upper classes. as is camping.

one can usually buy frites and meat kebabs served in a piece of baguette as a sandwich. and bottles of wine and mineral water. 2006) and John Tagliabue. Isabelle Garabuau-Moussaoui. “L’exotique est-il quotidien? Dynamiques de l’exotique et générations. 1810–1920. with the popular option of getting the fries right in the sandwich. apricots. Les Ouvriers de Paris au XIXe siècle (Paris: Christian. 2. These items will be carefully packed and carried to the ideal spot in backpacks. 1997).Eating Out 135 hard sausages to be sliced and eaten with chunks of bread. Sandrine Blanchard. trans. 6. NOTES 1. “La constitution de la spécialité gastronomique comme objet patrimonial en France. 7. Yves Delaporte. regard des sourds (Nantes: Siloë. and Dominique Desjeux. . L’Esprit des lieux (Grenoble: Presses Universitaires de Grenoble. eds. Bruno Laurioux. “The Ash May Finally Be Falling from the Gauloise. Nostalgic Cooks: Another French Paradox. 1990). or cherries.” The New York Times (September 8. 2002). 2006). 209. flats of summer fruits in season such as peaches. Martin Breugel. 2002). and beignets or round jam-filled doughnuts covered with glinting granulated sugar. baskets. 2005). Manger au Moyen Âge (Paris: Hachette. glaces (ice cream). 158. “‘Un sacrifice de plus à demander au soldat:’ L’armée et l’introduction de la boîte de conserve dans l’alimentation française. bags. Alimentations contemporaines (Paris: L’Harmattan. During the summer on the hot.” Le Monde (March 9. thé à la menthe (mint tea).. Grange and Dominique Poulot. There are also vendors for choux-choux or peanuts made crunchy with a praline coating. 3. Aude de Saint-Loup. and coolers. 115–16. Trevor Cox and Chanelle Paul (Leiden and Boston: Brill. 9. “Les Français consomment moins d’alcool et de tabac.” Revue d’histoire moderne et contemporaine (January-March 1997): 40–67. Elise Palomares.. Gestes des moines. Fabrice Laroulandière. Julia Csergo. vendors stroll up and down musically chanting the wares they carry on flat trays: boissons fraîches (cool drinks. Mériot. 47.” pp. 5. heavily frequented Mediterranean beaches. 10.” pp. 1997). Claude Fischler. 1997). eds. usually bottles of mineral water. From stands set up at the edge of the beach. and soda). fin XVIIIe-XXe siècle. and Marc Renard. café chaud (hot coffee). L’Homnivore (Paris: Odile Jacob. 183–93 in Daniel J. juice. Sylvie-Anne Mériot. 8. 4.” Revue historique 596 (October-December 1995): 260–83 and “Du temps annuel au temps quotidien: la conserve appertisée à la conquête du marché. 281–306 in Isabelle Garabuau-Moussaoui. 36.

. 14. April 1999).” pp. Eating Out in Europe (Oxford: Berg. “Cafés sahéliens de Paris: Stratégies de ‘gestions du ventre’ dans un espace de manducation. and Desjeux. 2. 13.” pp. Olivier Badot.. and Desjeux. Julia Csergo. Pascal Hug. 2003). and Desjeux. B. Palomares. 139–59 in Marc Jacobs and Peter Scholliers. “ ‘La pizza dans le pays des autres.’ ” pp. 145–71 in Garabuau-Moussaoui. Palomares. 123–41 in Garabuau-Moussaoui. Boutboul and A.” pp. “The Picnic in Nineteenth-Century France.136 Food Culture in France 11. eds. Lacourtiade. Palomares. “Étude chaînes 1998” (Paris: GIRA-SIC Conseil. Sylvia Sanchez. 12. “Esquisse de la fonction sociale de McDonald’s à partir d’une étude éthnographique. 83–121 in Garabuau-Moussaoui. 15.

Within families and circles of friends. and enjoyment that so many people bring every day to cooking and eating bring a bit of holiday reverence and revelry to nearly any meal. there is a strong emphasis on celebrating personal days such as birthdays. such as Christmas (December 24–25). The rest. on a daily basis. Since the 1990s a trend to revive traditional agricultural and regional celebrations has served to affirm local identity and preserve the sense of history. RELIGIOUS HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS The holidays having a religious origin and that are observed by the greatest number of people in France derive from the Catholic liturgical calendar. are simply fun. This is typical savoir-vivre (knowing how to live well) applied at the table. a few are secular commemorations such as Bastille Day (July 14). Of the 11 days mandated as federal holidays. observed on December 24 with the next day a holiday . and ensures the integration of individuals into communities. A holiday atmosphere certainly prevails for the Sunday lunch with family and at the dinner party given on a Friday or Saturday evening for a few close friends. most people today celebrate holidays such as Noël (Christmas).6 Special Occasions The care. and most people celebrate them in a secular fashion. That said. Parties. derive from Catholic religious observances historically connected with fasting. sustains family relationships. but it is also recognized that participation in shared festivities socializes children. These holidays are now feasts. interest. of course.

and grains. Abstinence from all food was in principle required until after the midnight mass. From the ecclesiastical requirement for a lean meal. and the former fasts have become secular feasts. Good wines are saved for the occasion. in a secular fashion. Fish. Oysters and foie gras are favorite appetizers. and shrimp set out for the first course of the Christmas meal. baked or roasted salmon. clams. Through the Platters of raw oysters and steamed mussels. Roasted turkey stuffed with chestnuts is a standard main course.138 Food Culture in France from work. or turbot for the wealthy were typical. from réveiller. . and because of seasonal availability. is now eaten throughout the year. Courtesy of Hervé Depoil. stockfisch (dried cod) for modest tables. vegetables. although the tradition is of recent vintage. People refer to the Christmas Eve meal as le gros souper (the big dinner). to wake up) with fish. Almost nothing is more typical than drinking sparkling wine for festive occasions. The old lean dishes are thus replaced on the holiday table by festive foods that suggest prosperity but are now within reach of many wallets. December 24 was a fasting day in the Catholic calendar. and Champagne accompanies dessert. who like the sapin or tree decorated with lights that is mounted in the living room. One broke the fast at the réveillon (late meal after mass. but no meat. The family celebration is a treat much anticipated by children. especially salmon. as well as the festive foods and gifts.

Christmas is heavily commercialized. whose aptitude as a vintner is mythical) but was rather the result of a happy accident in wine-making. on December 6) has been somewhat eclipsed. The adventurous make their own bûches. Clever marketing transformed Champagne into an essential feature of important celebrations. In the spring. and so on. buttery yeasted cake studded with candied fruits and decorated with powdered sugar eaten in Alsace—and Spéculoos (spice cookies of Flemish origin) common in Picardie and Pas-de-Calais. cloves. Sparkling wines can be made wherever wine grapes are grown. For this reason the old tradition of giving gifts to children for la Saint-Nicolas (the feast of St. and children now expect toys. olive oil. as presents. The cake for the bûche starts as a flat rectangle made from a light batter containing eggs but little or no butter. chemical changes resumed with warm weather. a sprinkling of powdered sugar to suggest snow. Nicholas. patron saint of children. rolled. As in the United States. Those who do attend the midnight service on Christmas Eve often divide up the meal. but it is common to order one from a pâtissier. aïoli (garlicky mayonnaise) or anchoïade (anchovies pounded with bread crumbs. foods for Christmas Eve dinner may still reflect the regional staples and the custom of eating a repas maigre or meatless lean meal. Children put out their shoes near a fireplace or a crèche (nativity scene) in the hopes that they will be filled with gifts. Since the late nineteenth century. and regional specialties such as the Germanic Christollen (Stollen)—a dry. The carbonation was not sought (nor added by the monk Dom Perignon. bicycles. and a few holly leaves imaginatively transform the cake into a log plucked from the woods. and lemon juice) with artichoke hearts. During the nineteenth century.1 Cold weather halted fermentation of the sugars before it was complete. Chocolate shavings resembling tree bark. electronic games. as well as alcohol. baked meringue toadstools. saving only cake and wine for the réveillon after mass. salt cod. Snails. Nicholas’s Day the traditional gifts were pains d’épices or spice bread flavored with honey. careful cultivation and scientific modes of production made sparkling wines more plentiful. Other winter desserts that appear around Christmas and New Year’s are chocolate truffles. then frosted with chocolate butter-cream. and oranges and nuts. but the greatest prestige attaches to the finest bottles from the Champagne region. producing carbon dioxide. the Christmas meal finishes with a bûche de Noël or cake in the shape of the fruit-wood Yule log that was placed on the fire as a symbol of plenty. For St. The baked sponge is spread with a jam glaze. and cinnamon. fruit pastes. marzipan confections. and . In Provence. sparkling wine was rare and drunk by the very wealthy.Special Occasions 139 end of the eighteenth century.

Pour in the olive oil. Grind fresh black pepper to taste onto the soup. Turn off the heat. Divide the cheese among the four bowls. water.140 Food Culture in France winter vegetables including chard and cardoons figure on the Christmas table. tangerines. Another explanation matches a dessert each to Christ and the 12 apostles. gently beat the egg yolks with a wooden spoon. sage. Ladle on the soup and serve piping hot. slice it in half lengthwise and remove the green germ. salt to taste. Bring the mixture to the boil. aged Cantal. place a slice of toasted bread in the bottom of each soup bowl. and water in a pot. The soup is also recommended as a cure-all for colds and aches and as a soothing restorative in case of gastronomic excess or hangover at any time of year. using the tip of a knife. To serve. flavorful aïgo-boulido (Occitan for “boiled water. lightly grilled or toasted • 3/4 cup of grated hard cheese such as Gruyère. sprinkling it on top of the bread. The Provençal Christmas meal concludes with 13 desserts. Put the garlic. just to mix. If the garlic is at all dry. bay leaf. and cook for 10 minutes. The meal often begins with a simple. or apples. Pour a ladleful of the boiled broth and garlic mixture onto the eggs and whisk together. or Parmesan Crush the garlic with your hand or with the side of a knife and peel it. In the bottom of a soup tureen or large serving bowl. thought to symbolize the 12 months of the year plus the petit mois (little month) composed of the 12 days from Christmas to Epiphany. . Either vin cuit (wine with macerated fruit such as oranges) or chilled sweet wine accompanies the selection of desserts: fresh fruits such as oranges. Garlic Soup (Aïgo-boulido) • 8 cloves garlic • 5 cups water • 1 sprig fresh sage • 1 bay leaf • 4 tablespoons olive oil • salt • 3 very fresh egg yolks • pepper • 4 slices of bread. then pour on the rest of the broth.” actually a far more tasty garlic soup).

Let the sponge batter sit overnight. hazelnuts. as necessary. salt. and walnuts. As you knead. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. dates. sugar. mix 3 cups flour. then pour in the orange flower water. olive oil. or fougasse. sprinkle on a bit of additional flour. With a pun it also literally means “oil pump. until doubled in volume. Pompe de Noël) • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast • 1 cup lukewarm water • 5 cups bread flour • 1 teaspoon salt • 1/2 cup sugar • grated zest of 1 orange • 3 tablespoons orange flower water • 6 tablespoons olive oil In a medium-size mixing bowl. The next day. and orange zest together in a large bowl. Christmas Bread (Pompe à l’huile. Place it back in the mixing bowl. Using a spatula or wooden spoon. a lightly sweetened bread enriched with olive oil and flavored with orange flower water or anise. and the sponge from the previous day. . figs. and light and dark nougats with nuts. turn the dough out from the bowl. Lightly flour a work surface. stir together the yeast and warm water. Form the kneaded dough into a ball. The name pompe à l’huile for the festive bread evokes the pomp and circumstance of the holiday celebration. mix in 1 cup of the flour to make a smooth batter. up to 24 hours. Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel. gibassier. or a lightly sweetened chard tart. incorporating it gradually first from the center and then from the edge of the bowl. almonds. if the dough is sticky. and allow to rise for about 2 hours.” a description that is not inaccurate. confections such as candied chestnuts. sugar and lemon peel. until the mixture is fairly uniform. candied almonds. and knead for a few minutes until the dough is smoothly elastic and no longer sticky. A whole melon carefully candied in syrup over two weeks at the end of summer may appear as the crown jewel of the holiday sweet spread. An indispensable element is the plain pompe à l’huile.Special Occasions 141 dried fruits and nuts such as raisins. stir the flour into the liquids. Place the bowl in a warm spot in your kitchen. Using a wire whisk. Make a well in the center. and pastries such as spinach tart made with olive oil or butter.

It is a quiet family gathering or a good excuse to get together with friends for a more relaxed evening than the rigorous celebrations of the preceding couple of weeks. Lightly grease two baking sheets. turn over. In the South. thick almond custard is usually spread between two layers of puff paste. . then make perpendicular cuts. Épiphanie or la fête des Rois commemorates the manifestation (épiphanie) of the infant Jesus to the Magi. they will sound hollow if you tap the bottom with your fingers. To serve. A fève (dried bean). Epiphany occasioned festival debauchery. While the cake is being served. Today. so that the disks are about 1/2-inch thick. Cover the breads with towels. Cut parallel lines into the dough about 1/4-inch deep and at intervals of 1 inch. the youngest child in the room gets to hide under the table and to ask the question: Who will be the king? The evening requires having a gilt cardboard couronne (crown) in reserve. If necessary. People eat several galettes through the course of the month with family groups and with friends. whole almond. and leave for the final rise in a warm place for about 1 hour. customs for Epiphany are now largely secular and family-oriented. or porcelain trinket is tucked into the paste or dough before it is baked. shaping each piece into a flat. To mark the day people eat the galette des Rois or gâteau des Rois (“kings’ cake” or Twelfth Night pastry). the galette can be a yeastleavened pain brioché or dough enriched with eggs and also butter. use a rolling pin to flatten the dough. The simplest version is plain flat puff pastry glazed with egg. When they are done.142 Food Culture in France Punch the dough down. This is baked into a round disk or a ring whose center is filled with cherries or prunes. sharp. As with most holidays. Preheat the oven to 400° F. and divide it into four. then turn it out of the bowl onto the work surface. round disk. The person whose piece of pastry contains the fève—referred to as such even if the object is not a bean—is crowned king or queen. Cool completely on wire racks before eating. bring the breads whole to the table and break off square chunks where they are scored. then place the disks two by two on the sheets. Near the winter solstice. until golden brown and crusty. Use your hands to flatten. Makes four loaves about 8 inches in diameter. which is in the shape of a crown. Throughout January. and pull the dough. A lightly sweetened. bakeries supply galette to the steady stream of buyers. Bake the loaves for 20 minutes. Use a clean razor blade or very thin. and noisy bibbers chose a king from among their own numbers. pointed knife to score the surface of the breads in a checkerboard pattern. January 6 is given as a holiday.

Carnival included the ludic selection of a king and queen who presided over a Feast of Fools. little ceremony outside of regular family meal customs marks the day. people eat rich desserts made with milk and eggs. Historically. meats. or filled with a purée of fresh fruit. fat. In rural areas. The crêpes are eaten rolled up with a bit of sugar. which was accompanied by showers of flower petals. large prairie mushrooms. For mardi gras (Fat or Shrove Tuesday). enlever les viandes or to take away meats) lasted the weekend or entire week.Special Occasions 143 Rich pancakes and pastries feature in the end-of-winter holidays that preceded the Lenten fast in the Catholic calendar. spread with jam such as apricot or cherry. pancakes. February 2 was also the day for attempting to predict how long winter weather would continue. almond shapes that are scored down the middle. In the port city of Marseille. and fowl against the fish and vegetables. people went to church to have a candle blessed. festival aristocracy that mocked the exclusions based on bloodlines long key to privilege in the everyday world. Through the mid-twentieth century.. with the characters slinging rotten crab apples. to see whether they showed any signs of emerging from hibernation.e. The medieval fable Aucassin et Nicolette (ca. Today. ending with mardi gras. and crêpes are typical. the last day before the start of Carême (Lent) on mercredi saint (Ash Wednesday). For months beforehand. Beignets (doughnuts). This was done by observing animals in their lairs. and the ritual battle between Carnaval and Carême—or standoff between the Fat and the Lean—was a big food fight pitting sausages. shaped as their name suggests. Social theorists and historians have observed that turning le monde à l’envers (the world upside-down) through festivals such as Carnival doubtless released tensions that might . bugnes or oreillettes (knotted or twisted strips of dough that are fried). 1225) has a mild version in a topsy-turvy carnival atmosphere.2 The wild. so the cookies puff out while baking. Carnaval (from the Latin carnem levare. not only rich foods but also an orgiastic period of revelry directly preceded Lent. The dough is patted into large. The celebration in Nice was especially famous. The commoner king and queen were an invented. In recollection of the presentation of Christ in the temple and the purification of the Virgin Mary. sometimes violent play and the disguises for Carnival made free with the usual social order. i. and plenty of butter or oil. and fresh cheeses. people prepared floats and masks for the festive procession. the candle was lighted at auspicious moments during the rest of year for good luck. Carnival parades and processions were often quite elaborate. people eat golden-brown butter cookies called navettes (boats). Crêpes are traditional for la Chandeleur (Candlemas or Candle Festival) observed on February 2.

chickens. roasted or stewed kid goat. a roast beef. November 11. eating and drinking. the 40 years of the reign of King David. and so on. Carnival has declined to the status of a minor tourist attraction. is as likely to be in people’s thoughts. Pâques (Easter).144 Food Culture in France otherwise manifest in a much more destructive fashion. The extraordinary scenes of parades and costumes. The meal is as elegant as possible. or. Municipal feux d’artifices (fireworks) are common. marking the resurrection of Christ and symbolized by a spring lamb. They also show just how big the blowout was. Hard boiled eggs are put in salads and baked whole in dishes finished in the oven. and people set off noisy pétards (firecrackers) and light sparklers. and few people observe the old Lenten dietary restrictions. with a thanksgiving meal of roast goose and new wine. The period also resonates with the 40 days of the flood. people enjoy the rich desserts on Fat Tuesday. a roast goose or turkey. On the jour de l’An . eggs are mixed up into omelets. foie gras. la Saint-Martin. on Corsica and in some southern cities. in the pictures of the Niç ois artist Gustav-Adolf Mossa suggest the months of careful preparation that went into Carnival. la fête de Saint-Sylvestre or New Year’s Eve is usually spent with friends. and rabbits to suggest life and seasonal renewal. blanquette d’agneau (white stew made with lamb). with many of the festive foods typical for Christmas: oysters. After Carnival one was probably only too glad to withdraw into the asceticism of the sainte quarantaine or Carême (from the Latin quadragesima or fortieth day). a ham. Today. in the Old Testament. la fête de l’Armistice commemorating the armistice of 1918. and some eat fish on Ash Wednesday and on Lenten Fridays. However. Children receive chocolates and candies in the shape of fish. In today’s secular. is celebrated with roast lamb. The 40 lean days anticipating Easter recall Christ’s fast in the desert and struggle against diabolical temptation. and they enrich breads and cakes such as the rich pain de Pâques (Easter bread) from the Vendée called alise pacaude. traditionally closed the harvest season and marked the end of agricultural work for the year. when corks pop and people drink a glass of Champagne to bring in the New Year. democratic society. much less for the full 40 days. The réveillon (late meal) usually lasts at least until midnight. NEW YEAR’S If Christmas and the winter religious holidays are spent with family. with its paid holidays and personal celebrations. the federal holiday on the same day. eggs.

along with sugar sculptures. understood as symbols of fecundity. the chef Marie-Antoine Carême. After the church ceremonies. friends exchange étrennes or little gifts to inaugurate the coming year. Carême insisted that all parts be edible. a holiday from work. found great play for his creativity in the pièce montée. The festive pastry set pieces. treated in his illustrated books Le pâtissier royal parisien (1815) and Le pâtissier pittoresque (1815 and 1854). Today the pièce . The pastry tower is drizzled with caramel that hardens to a shiny gleam and adds texture contrast. The Greeks and Romans ate honey-coated nuts. sugar has been used to coat spices for comfits and nuts for dragées. and other people whom one sees throughout the year. They are fairly costly and almost always ordered from a baker. Essential for both occasions and also for weddings are a pièce montée and dragées. In the early nineteenth century. such as an elegantly realized shady grotto or neoclassical façade. The showy desserts—tours de force that required a large kitchen staff and luxury ingredients including sugar—were status symbols that accrued prestige to the host. Choux fourrés. PERSONAL EVENTS Even among the large population of nonbelievers. can be traced to the aristocratic tables of the medieval and renaissance eras. are layered and stacked up (montés) into a tall pyramid. Medieval apothecaries distributed honey-coated spices such as coriander and fennel as medicinal breath fresheners and aids to digestion. profiteroles or round pastry puffs filled with vanilla custard. but who are outside the close circles of family and friends. but imaginative pâtissiers also make puff pastry swans. sweetmeats) or sugar-coated almonds as favors to guests at weddings and baptisms is a custom with ancient roots. and close friends. The classic pastry set piece is the conical croquembouche (“crunches in the mouth”). Distributing sachets of dragées (from the Greek tragêmata. The cone shape is always considered appropriate and attractive. Now a pièce montée made out of puff pastry is an integral element to middle class and upper middle class celebrations. merchants. which can then be filled with cream. cars. who first trained as a pâtissier and was fascinated by architecture. flowers. Even for the most complex design. and so on. it is fairly common to observe the sacramental rituals of church christenings for babies and first communions for older children.Special Occasions 145 (New Year’s Day). the parents offer a festive lunch or dinner to family members. The pièce montée or pastry “set piece” is a carefully constructed dessert designed to dazzle the eyes as well as the palate. January 1 is also the day for tipping mail carriers. the godparents. Since the Renaissance.

The bride selects a gown. Wedding foods tend to be high-status items that are presented as elegantly as possible. as in the United States. lobster. are today usually secular family occasions. Cocktails. people sign up for the listes de mariage (registry) to orchestrate the gifts that are given. Buffets. Dessert is . even for a so-called menu champêtre (rustic or country menu). and cheese. In either case. boned and stuffed fowl such as Guinea hen or capon. Banquets. The wedding meal is designed according to the couples’ tastes. with fish and then meat). and cutlery along with additions for the kitchen. Inaugurations. Apéritifs. Anniversaries. also traditionally a religious sacrament. montée is often decorated with a few dragées. Communions.” Courtesy of Janine Depoil. A series of four or five or six courses includes potage. Weddings.146 Food Culture in France Caterer Farnier’s shop window in Blanzy advertises cooking for “All Receptions: Family Meals. The couple chooses rings. plat (or sometimes two. roasted monkfish. Marriages. A site for the party must be found and rented. salad. Business Meals. Baptisms. middle class and upper middle class wedding parties are carefully choreographed affairs that may involve a weekend-long party and great expense. usually white or silver for a wedding or baptism. There are meetings with florists and caterers to plan the decorations and meals. but is on the scope of a banquet. with the most common requests being new sets of plates. glasses. entrée. Although most couples live together before marrying and have fully functioning households. Menus often include foie gras. Formal invitations must be printed and sent.

or croque-monsieur (hot ham sandwiches pressed flat in an iron) may be offered first. afternoon parties announced with written invitations enlarge on the four o’clock goûter. from a gathering of friends and family at a favorite restaurant. In addition to full-on weddings. who reciprocate by giving gifts. individuals quietly observed their name days according to the Catholic calendar with its commemorations of the deaths and ascensions of the various saints. The cake is brought to the table studded with lit candles that the birthday person tries to blow out in one great breath. Sparkling apple juice called champomi (from Champagne and pomme for “apple champagne”) is also popular. stuffed tomatoes. the favorite foods of the birthday person often figure on the menu. After a funeral. although some couples choose a gâteau à étages or layer cake. sometimes the parents decide to marry later on. crêpes garnished with an egg or piece of ham. the bereaved family traditionally offers a collation or luncheon to their guests. such as a white or chocolate cake with chocolate icing. Now the Anglo-Saxon custom of celebrating one’s own anniversaire or jour annniversaire (birthday) prevails. Some marry at the local town hall but forego the religious celebration and traditional wedding. Couples celebrate anniversaries with each other. Avoided by many parents because of the sugar content. Adults give their own birthday parties. Since 1999. For children. BIRTHDAYS Before the 1950s. along with other children. to an evening party given at the home that already has been established. Family members and the child’s godparents attend. the eighteenth . and they are served for the exceptional occasion of the birthday. parties to celebrate personal relationships assume many forms. The birthday cake is usually a plain cake that will appeal to children. Since 1974. About 30 percent of children are born outside of wedlock. Entertaining savories such as oeufs durs farcis (stuffed hard-cooked eggs). It is quite common for couples to live together without marrying and to start families. others marry through the PACS or pacte civil de solidarité. soft drinks are considered a great treat by children. when the majorité was lowered from 21. and all bring a gift. and there is strong social pressure to stage parties for friends and family. but give large parties for important milestones such as the 25th and 50th anniversaries. a civil alliance available both to heterosexual and to homosexual couples. the regular afternoon snack. For the family meal.Special Occasions 147 the obligatory coupe de Champagne and spectacular pièce montée. perhaps with a romantic dinner out.

ACADEMIC AND PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENTS To mark achievements at school and work. an occasion to celebrate an entire career. Older teenagers are usually quite accustomed to drinking small amounts of wine as a part of the family meal and alcohols in the form of an apéritif. and then the decade markers. At 18 one can vote. and drink alcoholic beverages legally. or a gathering of business partners and colleagues. Since the 1970s. Courtesy of Nadine Leick. A vernissage or gallery opening. a vin d’honneur . with speeches and toasts to accompany the lifting of glasses. Other important birthdays are the 25th. for the quarter-century. may be the occasion for a cocktail. drive. birthday marks the passage into adulthood. At business or academic conferences. people invite colleagues and teachers. The right to purchase alcohol at age 18 is essentially a formality. takes place at weddings before the dinner. whose name borrows from the American cocktail party. to a ceremonial apéritif or pot (drink). The 60th birthday often coincides with a retirement party. rather than a rite of passage. a vin d’honneur.148 Food Culture in France Carrying the birthday cake from kitchen into dining room. family and friends.

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may be drunk in tribute to an important speaker or guest, with canapés (light appetizers) to accompany the glass of wine, Champagne, or kir, before dinner. The verb arroser means “to water” or “to sprinkle” and by metaphorical, argotic extension to celebrate with a drink. A person who has just passed an important examination, defended a doctoral thesis, or even bought a new car invites family and friends to an arrosage.

People who have just moved into a new house or apartment invite guests to pendre la crémaillère. The phrase recalls the ceremony of hanging a rack or trammel in the chimney to hold the stock-pot over the fire. This done, one could cook, making the house inhabitable. People usually give parties with a buffet for the pendaison de la crémaillère, both to inaugurate the new place, and to make family and friends feel welcome. Foods are selected according to personal taste and the ease with which they can be served and then eaten from small plates as people circulate around the party. Common buffet items include platters of artfully arranged crudités or charcuterie, bouchées de fromage or savory baked puffs filled with a bit of cheese, salads of greens or grated carrots, hachis parmentier or shepherd’s pie, slices of roast beef served at room temperature, a stew such as a southern daube or North African tagine, fruit salad, wedges of apple tart, and slices of quatre quarts (pound cake) or chocolate cake.

Le Quatorze juillet, or le jour de la Bastille (July 14), is the national holiday commemorating the storming of the Bastille prison in Paris at the start of the Revolution of 1789. Only a handful of prisoners were found, but the riot symbolized release from the oppressive shackles of the ancien régime social and political orders. Bastille Day brings tremendous collective celebrations. Cities and towns organize fireworks, défilés (parades), and outdoor concerts and dancing. The immense Paris parade is always televised. Other spectacular events include the fireworks off the picturesque Pont d’Avignon, which dramatically breaks off halfway across the Rhône River. Families and community groups such as volunteer firemen, military veterans, and hunting clubs set up the outdoor barbecue for une grillade, a mixed grill that might include merguez, steaks, and lamb chops. For fun, people improvise foods with the bleu blanc rouge (blue, white, and red) of the flag: cocktails made with layers of strawberry syrup on the bottom, and then mixed vodka and anisette, and finally Curaç ao; scallops


Food Culture in France

garnished with reddish-orange salmon eggs to be served on a bright blue plate; and desserts of blueberries, fruits rouges (raspberries, strawberries, cherries), and cream or fromage blanc. Since the 1980s, events now staged annually such as Youth Day, Gay Pride (also called Euro-Pride or la Marche des fiertés), and the Techno Parade have the proportions and feelings of civic festivals, with parades, music, and plenty of eating, drinking, and revelry out of doors. As in many countries, sporting events such as soccer matches—a national passion— the Tour de France bicycle race, and marathons similarly offer something of the collective holiday experience.

In recent years a great effort has been made to continue or revive traditional regional and agricultural celebrations. Most villages and small towns have a fête votive, fête patronale, fête du pays, or kermesse celebrating the town’s patron saint. The festivals usually take place during the warm months, from May through October. They are fixed to a Sunday closest to the saint’s day, and last a weekend or three days. The festivals often were tied to a communal activity for farming, such as planting, harvesting, or threshing, and many have ancient pagan roots. Today, there is great appreciation for the fêtes votives and also fêtes folkloriques, as they are thought to preserve and teach about local customs including dress, regional styles of dancing, and gastronomic specialties. For a fête patronale or other local occasion, a special mass may be observed in the town church, and vendors set up outdoor markets and flea markets in the main street or square. Other festivals revived largely since the early 1990s are the May and December fêtes de la transhumance. It was customary to drive cows, sheep, and goats up to high ground for summer grazing. The descent back down to lower meadows and plains then followed the harvests. Today, trucks usually move the cattle, but the transhumance festivals are popular again especially in the late fall, when local cheeses made with the summer’s rich milk can be sold. The fêtes des vendanges or des moissons or d’abondance were feasts offered to harvesters to thank them for their work and celebrate the year’s bounty. New versions commemorate the old agricultural calendar and artisanal methods of work. The festivals are of great historical interest and are good for tourism. In recent years, they have also become vehicles for a certain revivalist, nationalist sentiment nostalgic for la vieille France; “old” here means Catholic France.

Special Occasions


Demonstrating the mechanics of a wine press, in Grimaud. Courtesy of Janine Depoil.

On a larger scale, city or regional fêtes are often associated with a special cultural practice, although some of these are of modern vintage. Highlights of the festivals vary according to region. In Nîmes there is bull-fighting, although the bull is never killed, as in Spain. The international film festival takes place each May at Cannes, the theater festival in July in Avignon, and operas are staged throughout the summer in the Roman theatre at Orange. Organized on the model of these cultural festivals, newer fêtes gourmandes organized to promote the patrimoine have flourished in recent years. Local restaurateurs, producers, and the municipal authorities collaborate to stage fairs that focus on local produce, from chestnuts to wine. Manifestations gastronomiques or gastronomic events take many forms, such as a tournée des restaurants where people make the rounds of participating restaurants to sample local dishes. Foires (fairs) have a carnival atmosphere like that of an amusement park. Foires or fêtes foraines formerly were associated with yearly outdoor markets (marchés forains) visited by itinerant merchants and traders. Today, the foires are heavily commercialized. Itinerant carnival workers set up lotteries, games, and rides. Vendors sell grilled merguez placed lengthwise in a piece of baguette, barbes à papa (“dad’s beard” i.e., spun sugar cotton


Food Culture in France

Alain Gontard’s restaurant in La Pacaudière announces an “open table” as part of the local gastronomic festival. The restaurant specializes in duck cookery including foie gras de canard. Courtesy of Christian Verdet/regard public-unpact.

candy), nougats, spice bread, waffles, guimauves (marshmallows), and the adored chichi, a long, flat beignet made of yeast dough flavored with orangeflower water and sprinkled with granulated sugar. The mercantile aspect of the old foires is recalled in today’s salons and expositions for producers of wine and brandies. These can be quite fancy affairs with a busy boutique atmosphere. Their attraction is increased by the fact that an invitation card is required for entry and tasting.

Since the 1990s, American customs associated with Halloween on October 31 have been heavily commercialized, and Halloween is now quite popular among children. Adults have had mixed reactions, finding the macabre emphasis on ghosts and skeletons unappealing, but children love wearing costumes and masks, carving citrouilles (pumpkins), and receiving sweets. Halloween celebrations have for the moment overshadowed la Toussaint (All Saints’ Day, November 1), a traditional religious holiday, today one of the federal holidays.

2. instituted in 1949 as the third Sunday in June. canto 31. the last Sunday in May.Special Occasions 153 Also modeled after American counterparts are the fête des Pères (Father’s Day). 1225). 1984). These days are celebrated with a festive family meal. . 2003). NOTES 1. “Il avoient aportés/des fromage[s] fres assés/et puns de bos waumonés/et grans canpegneus canpés. 28–9. When Champagne Became French: Wine and the Making of a National Identity (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. ed. The other spouse and the children offer gifts and either do the cooking or treat everybody to an evening out. Kolleen M. Guy. and the fête des Mères (Mother’s Day).” Aucassin et Nicolette (ca. Jean Dufournet (Paris: Flammarion.


bread. and contemporary agricultural and manufacturing practices also create dietary dilemmas. Animal protein was likely to be in the form of eggs. the French associate taking the full three-course meal with a sense of well-being and with being in good health. and vegetables from the kitchen garden had been the building blocks of daily meals. milk. are on the rise. however.7 Diet and Health Abundance and variety have characterized the diet in France since the end of the Second World War. or cheese. During the . such as obesity. while contributing to the quality of life that is so highly valued. For some. AND PLEASURE The variety of foods that is now available to the broadest swathe of the population has not always been a feature of the diet. The structured family meal provides nutritional balance and conditions daily eating for most people. Across economic classes. although meat consumption varied by region. MODERATION. As in other affluent nations. the modern lifestyle. In cities. meat consumption increased substantially during the nineteenth century. Problems related to overconsumption. abundance. grignotage (snacking) replaces or augments the cycle of three daily meals. the widely felt need for precautionary and protective measures shapes the response to matters of diet and health. In rural areas. At present. Genetically modified foods and agribusiness practices are perceived as threats to a healthy diet. legumes. BALANCE. but prices fluctuated and the best cuts were quite expensive.

Conviviality and social connection. and beef farmers. and grains made the earlier shortages and fluctuations a thing of the past. Eating a variety of fresh foods is more generally understood as key to une bonne nutrition or une alimentation saine (good nutrition. the European Union began giving massive subventions to French grain. Affluence and modernization associated with the Trente glorieuses or Thirty Glorious Years of rebuilding after the war resulted in significant changes. In 1962. The purpose of the assistance was to guarantee a stable food supply. animal fats such as lard and goose fat. Nutrition is only part of the recipe. on the other. including milk. strengthening beverage and in this sense was seen as quite distinct from distilled alcohols. Today the centerpiece of most middle class meals in France is meat. on the one hand. The American practices of counting calories and weighing portions would seem quite strange to most people. As recently as the mid-twentieth century. Dairy products. farmers sent their best meat and dairy products off to the German Reich. dairy. Overproduction and a reliable. Bread retains a strong symbolic importance. and information about health benefits associated with unsaturated vegetable oils and the Mediterranean diet. eggs. farmers adopted modern industrial techniques. however. The use of butter. hunger and diseases that result from dietary deficiencies had not been eradicated.” is popular.200 calories per day by 1943. but consumption of wine has declined. lamb. Despite this perception.156 Food Culture in France Occupation of the 1940s. the broad preference for cooking with vegetable oils such as sunflower oil stems from their lower prices. whether beef. The view that wine is healthful has not disappeared.1 The benefits of eating the full three-course family meal are thought of in a holistic fashion. A wide variety of fruits and vegetables are eaten. but consumption has declined in favor of animal proteins and fresh produce. Wine was long viewed as a healthy. Yogurt. inexpensive supply of beef. eating in the company of friends or family. pork. are equally necessary . charcuterie. under the PAC or Politique agricole commune (CAP or Common Agricultural Policy). and fresh and aged cheeses are very important. Culinary quality and sensual appreciation of food are essential to the perception that one is eating well. including raw salads and crudités. and variety is precisely what characterizes the full meal with its complement of three or four different dishes. rates of alcoholism and diseases such as cirrhosis of the liver were high through the mid-twentieth century. a diet that is healthy). Rationing at home allowed for only 1. At present. which has been heavily marketed as a healthy way to “eat milk. Using PAC funds. dairy products. and vegetable oils used to vary largely by region. or fowl. and life expectancy dropped drastically during the Vichy years.

the baked meat and Enjoying a good meal and a glass of wine with friends contributes to quality of life and good health à la française. THE FRENCH PARADOX In the late 1980s and early 1990s. and plaisir (enjoyment) to name the salient features of eating well and harmonieuses (harmonious) to describe the ensemble of practices that go into eating well. yet lower mortality rates from cardiovascular and coronary diseases. regularly drank wine and ate all sorts of foods rich in animal fats. the respite from the activities of the day imposed by the slow rhythm of the full meal. modération (moderation). famous for foie gras and rib-sticking cassoulet. such as cheeses and butter. Courtesy of Christian Verdet/regard public-unpact. The French. they had comparable or higher cholesterol levels. American and French researchers identified a phenomenon they named the French Paradox. People use the terms équilibre (balance). such as determining the relatively small portion sizes for individual components of a meal. Relative to Americans. The sense of pleasure and balance guide the practical aspects of cooking and serving daily meals. it was observed. and the British. northern Europeans. The very lowest rates of coronary disease were measured in the southwestern Languedoc region. . cannot be discounted.Diet and Health 157 ingredients. Similarly.2 Spending time at table and taking pleasure in eating are as important as what is eaten. which received extensive coverage in the media.

stores. BIRTH. (Lifespan for women is more than 83 years. for instance. including a minimum of five required prenatal visits to the doctor. cheese. The rituals of serving and sharing food and of politeness such as finishing up at about the same time as one’s table companions. but a régime équilibré (balanced diet) is the order of the day. and wine. lacking trace minerals) water as possible. moderation in all things is recommended. AND BREASTFEEDING Women expecting babies are notorious for having sudden. It includes relatively high proportions of fruits.. Most women reduce the amount of coffee and wine during pregnancy to avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol.158 Food Culture in France bean stew that is generously enriched with goose or duck fat. The French diet is varied. was a people eating a dangerously delicious diet. but rather as an enhanced state of health and femininity.3 Here. Moderate consumption of wine or other alcohols can play a role in counteracting the effects of cholesterol. How was this contradiction to be explained? Various answers have been proposed to explain the so-called paradox. Doctors discourage women from putting on too much extra weight during pregnancy. homes. Beyond the constant admonition to drink as much plain “pure” (i. few cut these items out of . PREGNANCY. Other factors are important. a hospital stay that lasts four to five days under normal circumstances at the time of the birth. Nearly universal access to high quality health care through the national sécurité sociale (social security) and emphasis on preventive care contribute to the health of the population. as well. The health insurance system guarantees women prenatal care. and legumes. in addition to meats. a doctor is called. strong envies (cravings). Pregnancy is not seen as an infirmity. yet enjoying good health. grains. Mineral waters with a high magnesium content are useful against the common problem of constipation. People spend more time at table for meals. portion sizes in restaurants. Making minor adjustments to the diet in response to the changing state of the body during pregnancy is recommended. tend to prevent one from eating too much. In case of any complication.4 Physical activities such as walking have a larger place in people’s daily routines. Midwives commonly deliver babies.) Each of these elements in the diet and lifestyle plays a role in maintaining health. yet they eat less. and recipes are small. Compared with their American equivalents. the longest in Europe. however. vegetables. At the same time. Mealtime is strongly associated with relaxation.e. as this is seen as self-indulgent and quite unnecessary. and enjoyment. and 10 weeks of paid maternity leave from their jobs. socializing. then.

if it continues to appeal. As the baby begins to eat solid food. relying on the simplest cooking methods that avoid the use of fats. an occasion for celebration. BABIES AND CHILDREN Initiating children into the rites of the table is essential to their education. and poaching. To continue to breast-feed an infant after three months may also be impractical if the mother must return to work after the 10-week paid maternity leave. At the same time. In this case. Family and friends visiting the new mother and child after they have left the maternité (maternity ward or room) bring gifts for the mother. there is little stigma attached to choosing against breastfeeding. cod. it is thought that there is no use asking her to act à contrecoeur (against her wishes). people buy petits pots (jars of baby food) or make food at home. About half of women breast-feed their babies. then cooked puréed vegetables. It is recognized that breastfeeding a newborn is highly beneficial to the child. yogurt and fromage blanc. a more extreme approach is perceived as fanatical. If the mother does not want to or cannot. boiling. such as steaming. a greater variety of vegetable purées are proposed. honey. Babies and very young children often eat separately from the parents.Diet and Health 159 their diet entirely. in addition to breast milk or formula. At about six months. available in the supermarchés. The attitude toward feeding infants is practical. because in France they bring the risk of toxoplasmosis. babies are offered purées de fruits. then cereals such as semolina and rice. It is widely felt that to extend breastfeeding any longer is unseemly. and eventually . and perhaps a small glass of wine with dinner. At about three to four months. hake). there is recourse to the wide variety of formulas for infants in every stage of development. and doctors recommend that they stop at three months. There is also a good deal of generalized social pressure to stop at this point. The birth of the child is. naturally. and health. socialization. the baby has received the essential nutrients and antibodies from the mother. who take their meals a bit later. veal) and poisson blanc or maigre or white fish that is low in fat (sole. as if to do so might hold back the infant in the earliest stages of development. continuing to sip a café au lait in the morning. such as flowers and bottles of Champagne. Except in the case of a specific health problem or intolerance. These are strictly déconseillés (recommended against). The exception is raw salads and raw vegetables that cannot be peeled. in addition to useful items for the baby. such as clothing. At three months. then beef. and tiny quantities of meat or fish: first viande blanche or white meats (chicken.


Food Culture in France

ham. At about nine months or so, children are offered bread, then eggs. At about one year, fattier fish such as sardines, tuna, and salmon may be incorporated into the diet, along with raw vegetable such as peeled grated carrots and cooked dried legumes such as lentils and haricots. By about a year to 15 months, when the baby can drink cow’s milk, it is thought that the child can eat a full variety of solid foods. The strong dietary prohibitions for babies are against added salt and sugar, foods that are too fatty or strong in flavor, and foods that present extra risks of bacteria or allergens: no pork, horsemeat, game, shellfish, fried foods, peanuts, or spices, and no sweets. To young children (ages three to six years) parents give simple foods seen as easy to digest and appealing to the still-developing palette. The classic child’s meal begins with a potage (soup) made of vegetables boiled in lightly salted water or plain broth, then passed through a moulinette (food mill) or puréed with the hand-held mixeur-plongeant. Potatoes, broccoli, turnips, leeks, spinach, carrots, pumpkin, and artichokes are common soup ingredients. A bit of pasta may be cooked in the soup and a spoon of grated Gruyère added for garnish. Jambon-coquillettes is a favorite children’s meal: boiled pasta such as small shells or elbow macaroni with a bit of butter and mild grated cheese and a slice of jambon blanc (fresh ham, more meaty and less salty than the aged hams). Meat, especially red meat, and beef in particular, is considered important, as it is thought to donner des forces (build strength). It is recommended that children eat meat once each day, and parents enjoin their child to Mange ta viande! (“Eat your meat!”). Small children eat meat that is thoroughly cooked; older children are taught to appreciate beef that is saignant (“bloody,” i.e., rare), as adults do. Butchers grind to order children’s portions of steak haché (ground or chopped beef), which is then loosely patted into a flat oval shape to be pan fried. Escalopes de poulet (chicken cutlets) sautéed in butter or oil are popular. Vegetable purées, enriched with a little milk and a tiny quantity of butter, are essential preparations, along with bread to accompany everything. Food for children is ideally to be nutritious, tasty, and well textured. Soft foods, too many sweets, and too much sugar are avoided. Sodas are viewed as empty calories and are frowned upon. The same is true of fruit juices, seen as overly sugary, and a poor substitute for fresh fruit. In the morning, children are given hot milk or hot chocolate. Later in the day they may drink tisanes (herbal infusions) but no coffee or tea. Older children are expected to sit at table with adults, to eat the same foods that adults are eating, and to be polite and sociable. There is great concern among parents and at the level of the state to inculcate good eating habits in children. Parents want to raise healthy

Diet and Health


children who enjoy a good quality of life and who are equipped to be socially integrated. The state is concerned with public health, as it regulates the health care system and has the economic vitality of the country in mind. In secondary schools, the annual fall Semaine du goût and other initiatives teach children about the country’s culinary heritage and simultaneously present alternatives to la mal bouffe (“bad grub”). Beginning in the 1970s, the term mal bouffe or malbouffe was used to mean fast food and junk food. Now it can refer to any food considered unhealthy, an unbalanced diet, an unreflecting mode of eating. As part of the effort to protect the health of children by encouraging good eating habits, the state has forbidden the sale of soft drinks and candies in secondary schools and mandated that lessons on nutrition and health be incorporated into the national curriculum. Similarly, the state regulates television advertising, seen as exerting a nefarious influence on children’s health and eating and consumer habits. At present, for instance, commercials cannot occupy more than 12 minutes to the hour on television, and televised publicity for tobacco and for beverages containing more than 1.2 percent alcohol is forbidden.5

When care of the seriously ill still was given at home and predominantly by family members, household manuals and most cookbooks included a section with recipes for the treatment of the invalide (invalid or sick person). Today, “pectoral” broths and home remedies such as chest plasters have disappeared, in favor of the modern commercial pharmaceuticals that professional doctors prescribe. There remains little concept of specific foods appropriate for the ill; rather, adjustments are made to the diet overall. As in the United States, serious conditions are addressed with radical changes, such as a lowprotein diet in the case of kidney problems. In a nation of wine-drinkers, the crise de foie (“liver crisis”) was a classic complaint, extensible to nearly any malaise. Today, of course, avoiding alcohol is recommended against the more specific problems of cirrhosis or enzyme imbalance. There is, similarly, little conception of a special diet for the troisième and quatrième âges (third and fourth ages, i.e., retirement and old age: people ages 60 and older and 75 and older, respectively) outside of reducing portions to suit lower activity levels and a slower metabolism. For the minor, day-to-day complaints, smaller adjustments are made. In case of bouffissures or gonflements (swelling resulting from water retention), an effort is made to reduce the intake of wine, coffee, and


Food Culture in France

salty and rich foods such as cheese. For temporary illness affecting the appetite, light and easily digested foods are recommended. Against gastric ills, plain boiled rice and cooked carrots form the menu, and doctors recommend that one avoid green vegetables and salads, until the illness has passed. Purée de pommes (apple sauce) may also be given, as well as broths or light soups. Mineral waters high in magnesium, salads, fresh fruits and vegetables, even a drink of pastis may be taken to improve digestion, and plain yogurt eaten to soothe the stomach and encourage beneficial intestinal flora. Tisanes or herbal infusions are enjoyed as after-dinner hot drinks or before bed, but they are also thought to have specific useful properties: rose hips against colds, chamomile to soothe the stomach, linden as a calming tea before bed. An after-dinner drink such as a Cognac or other fruit brandy is referred to as a digestif (digestive). The small shot of strong alcohol is thought to settle the stomach after a rich or large meal and to promote digestion. Knowledge of the medicinal properties of foods and notions of regulating health through diet are traceable to antiquity. The holistic approach to balancing the diet has its most ancient roots in the Greek theory of the four bodily humors, which had to be balanced through the best choice of foods for an individual’s constitution. Today, the view that connects health and diet through a notion of harmony and balance is completed by the conviction that adequate rest and relaxation, including proper vacations from work, are important for health. As a complement to the maintenance of health through a balanced, harmonious diet, there is also a cachet (gel capsule), comprimé (tablet), or pillule (pill) designed, it seems, for every health problem, no matter how small. That France is a highly medicalized country is due in part to the provisions of the outstanding national medical care. Coverage allows patients to choose their physicians, and it gives physicians great freedom to prescribe medications and tests. Consumer awareness and the ongoing development of new pharmaceuticals, including those to treat complaints such as cardiovascular disease and hypertension that are relatively common in the aging population, further contribute to this trend.6

As in most affluent countries where people have an embarras du choix (a wealth of choice—or too many choices), problems related to eating too much are on the rise. Conditions associated with an overabundant diet combined with a sedentary lifestyle, notably obesity, are becoming

Diet and Health


more prevalent. In 2006, INSERM, the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale or National Institute for Health and Medical Research, estimated that 1 of every 10 children is obese by the age of 10, twice the figure measured in 1980.7 Categorizations of weight as “normal,” “excessive,” and so on derive from the IMC or indice de masse corporelle (BMI or body mass index) established by the World Health Organization’s International Obesity Task Force. The IMC is a ratio calculated to evaluate a person’s weight status. It is defined as weight in kilograms, divided by the square of the height measured in meters. According to this ratio, overweight is defined as having an IMC of greater than 25; an IMC greater than 30 indicates obesity. In France as in the United States, putting on excess weight often results from the addition of snacks to the schedule of regular meals8; from eating for reasons such as boredom or stress, rather than hunger; from eating large quantities of sugar in sweets, processed foods, and sodas; and from a lack of adequate physical activity. Physicians and researchers observe higher incidences of gastric and intestinal disorders, diabetes, sleep apnea, and other conditions associated with excess weight. Overconsumption may bring or manifest psychological stresses, as well, especially as contemporary ideals of beauty for both men and women require a slender ligne (figure). Pathological behaviors related to eating and having psychological causes, such as anorexia and bulimia, slowly increase, along with the sale of weight loss products first developed in the United States and now infiltrating the French market. The progress of afflictions related to overconsumption, although alarming, is slower in France than in many other nations. This is due to the strong traditions of the family meal, to the sense of ceremony that accompanies eating, and to the fact that many families continue to cook regular meals at home and to take regular meals when dining out. In the last decade, the state has adopted an interventionist mode, encouraging, and even requiring, preventive measures as part of regular health care. A carnet de santé (health notebook) is established for each child at birth. The notebook is used to monitor preventable conditions throughout childhood. Doctors note such information as the dates of required vaccinations, any instance of dental decay, and domestic accidents. Since 1995, the notebooks contain a courbe de corpulence (corpulence curve) to track the child’s weight relative to a normal estimate for development based on the body mass index. A departure from the normal range on the curve sounds the alert. For cases of weight gain, doctors advise a modest reduction in portion size to be observed over the long term, avoidance of sweets and eating between meals, and

as well as affordable. At present worldwide. respond well to these ideals. where most processed foods for sale contain ingredients from a genetically modified . an OGM is a plant or animal that has received genetic material from a different kind of plant or animal. The French are notorious defenders of the salubriousness and unbeatable savor of. and cotton that contain genes from bacteria providing resistance to herbicides (allowing for or requiring the use of pesticides) or insects (providing resistance to pests). procuring fresh food directly from a farmer remains an ideal. they want to know the origins of what they eat. That people pay more for organic items suggests the additional ethical interest in supporting ecologically sustainable and nonpolluting methods of agriculture. Although most edibles are purchased at grocery stores. People want the foods that they purchase and eat to be natural and unadulterated for the purpose of commerce or convenience. however. the most common transgenic foodstuffs and crops are soybeans. thus pure. FOOD SAFETY The safety of the food supply and the reliability of the federal and European governments in its regulation are contemporary preoccupations. with their references to quality. Where these and later practices result in modifications within single species. Terroir and the AOC label. The notion of purity at work here should not be confused with the equally important matter of hygiene or cleanliness. Human interference with the genetic makeup of foods is traceable to prehistoric times. artisanal methods.164 Food Culture in France the encouragement of physical activity such as walking and playing outdoors. herding and agriculture. Ideally. corn. and regional particularity. a feature of organic farming. the cheeses that they carefully craft from raw (unpasteurized) milk. for instance. humans began to tinker with the natural selection of characteristics in plants and animals through hunting and gathering. the term OGM refers to transgenic alterations. The biggest bugbears are OGM or organismes génétiquement modifiés (GMOs or genetically modified organisms) and other corporate industrial agricultural practices such as the use of antibiotics and growth hormones in meat. Most genetically modified crops are grown (since 1994) in the United States. The expanding market for domestic and imported produits biologiques (organic items) indexes the concern to eat the natural foods that are believed to be the healthiest. traceable to a specific place and an individual producer. Long before the development of sophisticated techniques for breeding and hybridization. That is.

In 1996. The Label Rouge (red label) and Certificat de Conformité (quality standards certificate) indicate high grades of meat. such as sheltering young calves from the light. rather than pink. For instance. In 1998. which in fact largely follow the French system of controls that . By contrast.9 The pervasive mistrust of transgenic foods and industrial farming practices—viewed as unnatural. and the farmers who grow them are responsible for indemnities. AB stands for Agriculture biologique or organically raised meat. As in the case of wine. the European Union included a clause in the Treaty of Amsterdam that requires member states to protect the welfare of animals as sentient beings.11 Laws enacted in the 1990s multiplied the quality-control labels for meat. and environmentally harmful— combines with abiding suspicion of the state’s commitment to protect people. France grows only a few hundred hectares of genetically modified crops. Since the late 1970s. the AOC label indicates a typical. That is. cargo loads of American transgenic soy arrived in France. In 1997. In France and the European Union. the human variant of BSE or bovine spongiform encephalopathy. This transpired shortly after the first known death (in 1995) in the United Kingdom from CreutzfeldtJacob disease. such as in the form of bone meal. European Union regulations now prohibit oldfashioned methods for raising le veau sous la mère (milk-fed veal). the spread of the disease was traced to the cannibalistic practice in industrial agriculture of recycling animal waste as feed. animals raised for milk and meat have been carefully tracked. transgenic foods are rare in Europe. regional product. flesh. Some of the feed was contaminated. as well as a standard of quality. the European market closed to imported beef raised on growth hormones. designed to produce truly white. natural food supply in a manner that is also ethical and ecologically sustainable. administering growth hormones to animals destined to be sold for meat is illegal. and debate. and other changes have been enacted. and as more people died including in France. In 1999. The strong reaction in France and Europe to these incidents and practices helps to explain regulations currently in force. should other crops accidentally be contaminated by a stray seed or by pollen. cows on industrial farms were being fed the remains of other slaughtered cows. Recent statutes regarding animals and meat give a sense of the strong interest in maintaining a safe.10 Veterinary inspectors make regular visits to slaughterhouses. and the European Union is currently financing studies to understand the harmful effects of hormones and also antibiotics in meat. As tens of thousands of cows were put to death. protest. the French system was modified to conform to European regulations. unhealthy.Diet and Health 165 crop. Two incidents that occurred in the mid-1990s provoked extraordinary social mobilization.

Serge . The blanket bans on genetically modified foods have been superseded. including France. transgenic crops and foods must be proven safe before they are made available to farmers and consumers. NOTES 1. The year 2001 saw the creation of the AFSSA or Agence française de sécurité sanitaire des aliments (French Agency for Food Sanitation and Security) to protect consumer interests. L. including specialized consumer interest groups. Sandrine Blanchard. 1998). Alexandre Lazareff. Since 2000. According to the precautionary principle. as testing of old applications continued. maintain a remarkably vigilant attitude.5 percent of nonauthorized OGM for the European market) be indicated on labels for food and animal feed. cooking and eating that define living well à la française. seven member states. In October 2003. however. Despite the legal ambiguity. “Les facteurs de risque coronarien: Le paradoxe français. and identifying information for the slaughterhouse where it was killed and processed.166 Food Culture in France was already in place. the place of origin of the animal. “Les Français consomment moins d’alcool et de tabac. Against the rulings of other authorities such as the European Commission. with the burden of proof for safety resting on producers. and keen to protect the rich traditions of agriculture and artisanal production. the European Court of Justice continues to back countries that wish to ban genetically modified crops if they can demonstrate a health risk. the date by which it is best consumed. Richard. which is responsible for regulation. by the labeling rules that make their presence transparent and that make transgenic products traceable. In 1998. meat sold prepackaged in supermarkets carries an identifying ticket indicating the cut of meat. like Europe. effectively putting an end to the old moratorium. France.” Le Monde (March 9.13 In 2004. Many people. Europe began again to approve transgenic crops for importing.” Archives des Maladies du Coeur et des Vaisseaux 80 (April 1987): 17–21. J.12 The current stance regarding OGM is slightly ambiguous. and unlike the United States. then. follows the principe de précaution (precautionary principle) regarding transgenic modification. European rules began to require that the presence even of a small quantity of transgenic organism (0.9 percent of authorized and 0. L’exception culinaire française (Paris: Albin Michel. few people are willing to buy transgenic foods. 2. implemented a ban on the sale of any new bioengineered crops. People remain aware of the sway that corporate and trading interests exert on the government. 3. 136. 2006).

Sophie Chauveau. platelets.. 1995). and Public Space: The Impact of BSE and Foot-and-Mouth Disease on Public Thinking. 2002) and Manger aujourd’hui (Toulouse: Privat.” The Lancet 339 (1992): 1523–26. eds. Risk. 2006). 208 in Chatriot. étiquetage et émergence du ‘citoyenconsommateur’: l’exemple des OGM. eds.inserm. CT: Praeger. Au nom du consommateur (Paris: Découverte. “Risk. and Health Ineqality (Westport. “Traçabilité. 12. Monique Dagnaud. and Hilton. Céline Granjou. “Qui défend le consommateur? Associations. “Monsanto élabore les OGM de demain. 6. “Dietary lipids and their relation to ischaemic heart disease: From epidemiology to prevention. 5. 4. 13. de Lorgeril. 11. 7. Alain Chatriot.” Le Monde (March 21. Jo Murphy-Lawless. http://www. Marie-Emmanuelle Chessel. 1989): 39–46 and “ 225 in Barbara Herr Harthorn and Laury Oaks. consommation et publicité télévisée. 12 and 55–67. Le Régime Santé (Paris: Éditions Odile Jacob.” in Harthorn and Oaks. “Malades ou consommateurs? La consommation de médicaments en France dans le second XXe siècle. and Hilton. Paul Rozin.. 2004). 182–98 in Alain Chatriot. 9.” p. and Serge Renaud. “The Ecology of Eating: Smaller Portion Sizes in France Than in the United States Help Explain the French Paradox. Claude Fischler.” p.” Psychological Science 14. Ethics. Francesca Bray. “Genetically Modified Foods: Shared Risk and Global Action. and Matthew Hilton. Chessel. 179 in Chatriot. Sociologies de l’alimentation (Paris: PUF. 2003). Chessel. and the French paradox for coronary heart disease. Notes et études documentaires 5166 (Paris: La Documentation Française. Erin Pete. 8.” pp. and Christy Shields. alcohol. 2002). “Obésité des jeunes” (May 2006). Jean-Pierre Poulain. Culture.” Journal of Internal Medicine 225 (Supplement 1. 10. . institutions et politiques publiques en France (1972–2003). Hervé Morin. 2003).Diet and Health 167 Renaud and M. no. 5 (September 2003): 450–54. Kimberly Kabnick. Enfants.” p. 196.


Déjeuner Lunch. Café A small. or appetizers. strong coffee. Digestif Drink served after a meal. Apéritif A drink taken before lunch or dinner and served with finger food such as nuts. served as a composed salad for the first course of a meal. Bouquet garni A bundle of fresh herbs dropped into broths and soups to lend flavor during cooking. especially pork. Biscuits Cookies. . Croissant Buttery. Also a café or coffee shop. Cantine Canteen or cafeteria. Crudités Raw vegetables. Baguette Long. Charcuterie Cured meat products. chips. Café au lait Coffee with hot milk drunk at breakfast. Boulangerie Bread bakery and shop. slim crusty loaf of bread. Collation Mid-morning snack for children.Glossary Amuse-bouche Appetizer. such as hams and sausages. crescent-shaped breakfast pastry. mid-day meal. flaky.

Viande Meat. A great delicacy. Fromage Cheese. Pain au chocolat Croissant filled with chocolate. Lard Fresh bacon used in cooking. such as spaghetti or elbow macaroni. such as butter or jam. . the plat is the second course. Tartine Bread spread with something. Plat Main course of a meal. also the pastry bakery and shop. Merguez Spicy beef or lamb sausage. Pâtisserie Pastry. Potage Soup. Poisson Fish. also the cheese course of a meal. Tourte Tart covered with a top crust and usually having a savory filling. usually meat. after the entrée. like a pie with a bottom crust only. Petit-déjeuner Breakfast. Pâtes Pasta. Réveillon Late festive meal served on Christmas Eve and on New Year’s Eve. Tisane Herbal tea. Tarte Tart. evening meal. Stockfisch Salted dried codfish. Goûter Afternoon snack for children. Frites French fried potatoes. or infusion. Vinaigrette Oil and vinegar dressing. Entrée The first course of a meal. Dragée Sugar-coated almond or Jordan almond. such as a cooked salad.170 Glossary Dîner Dinner. Pâte Pastry dough or bread dough. Foie gras Fattened liver of a canard (duck) or oie (goose).

eu/ Institut Européen d’Histoire et des Cultures de l’Alimentation (IEHCA) European Institute of Food History and Cultures http://www.ieha.gouv. AND OFFICES Centre de Recherche pour l’Étude et l’Observation des Conditions de Vie (CREDOC) Research Center for the Study and Observation of Living Conditions Chef Simon http://www.inserm. ORGANIZATIONS.Resource Guide WEB Commission Européenne European Commission Institut National des Appellations d’Origine (INAO) National Institute of Denominations of Origin Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA) National Institute of Agronomic Research Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM) National Institute of Health and Medical Research .asso.inra.europa.chefsimon.

Philippine (1963) by Jacques Rozier. La Bûche (1999) by Danièle Thompson. L’Aile ou la cuisse (1976) by Claude Zidi. Une affaire de goût (2000) by Bernard MAGAZINES Chefs et saveurs L’Hôtellerie Néorestauration Omnivore Papilles 60 Millions de consommateurs Ministère de l’Éducation Nationale Ministry of National Education http://www.sante. saveurs et traditions FILMS Adieu.insee. .gouv.agriculture. Alimentation générale (2005) by Chantal Recipes http://marmiton.gouv. Au Bon Beurre (1952) by Jean Ministère de la Culture Ministry of Culture http://www. Carnages (2002) by Delphine Gleize. Le Boucher (1970) by Claude Ministère de la Santé et de la Protection Sociale Ministry of Health and Social Protection http://www.gouv.172 Resource Guide Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques (INSEE) National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies Ministère de l’Agriculture et de la Pêche Ministry of Agriculture and Fishing http://www.

Le Chagrin et la pitié (1972) by Marcel Ophüls. Mon oncle (1958) by Jacques Tati.Resource Guide 173 Chacun cherche son chat (1996) by Cedric Klapisch. Le Festin de Babette [Babettes Gaestebud] (1987) by Gabriel Axel. Au Petit Marguery (1995) by Laurent Bénégui. Nénette et Boni (1996) by Claire Denis. Mondovino (2004) by Jonathan Nossiter. . Mille et une recettes d’un cuisinier amoureux (1996) by Nana Dzhordzadze. Touchez pas au grisbi (1954) by Jacques Becker. Décalage horaire (2002) by Danièle Thompson. Delicatessen (1991) by Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Le Week-end (1967) by Jean-Luc Godard. Cuisine et dépendances (1993) by Philippe Muyl. La Cuisine au beurre (1963) by Gilles Grangier. Masculin / Féminin (1966) by Jean-Luc Godard. La Grande bouffe (1973) by Marco Ferreri. Métisse (1993) by Mathieu Kassovitz. La Femme du boulanger (1938) by Marcel Pagnol. Manon des sources (1953) by Marcel Pagnol and version of (1986) by Claude Berri. Chocolat (1988) by Claire Denis. Les Quatre cents coups (1959) by François Truffaut. Vatel (1990) by Roland Joffé. Les Glaneurs et la glaneuse (2000) by Agnès Varda. La Traversée de Paris (1956) by Claude Autant-Lara. Monsieur Ibrahim et les fleurs du Coran (2002) by François Dupeyron. Le joli mai (1962) by Chris Marker. Les Stances à Sophie (1970) by Moshé Mizrahi. 37°2 le matin (1986) by Jean-Jacques Beineix. Le Charme discret de la bourgeoisie (1972) by Luis Buñuel. Jean de Florette (1986) by Claude Berri.


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4 anchoïade. 126. 4. 139 À la recherche du temps perdu (Proust). 8 Antilles. 41. 43–44. 164–66 aïgo-boulido. 72. 158–59. 6 All Saints’ Day. 88–90. 165 aperitif. 71. 73 Appert. 156 ale. 33–34. 61 allec. 7. 11. 77–78. 3–7. 163 Anthimus. 59 L’Aile ou la cuisse (Zidi). 5 Aquitaine. 165 anise. 148–49 Apicius. 106–7. 16. 121 apple. 139 anchovies. 120. 66. 77 Algeria. 62. 120. 9 agriculture. 17–18 amphora. 155–56. 3. 73. 13 animal welfare. 77. 12. 2. 150. 6. 164–66 AFSSA (Agence française de sécurité sanitaire des aliments). 152 almond. 147 anorexia nervosa. 129 alcohol. recipe. 47. 70–71 aqueduct. See also dragée Alsace. 17–18. 33. 23 AOC (Appellation d’origine contrôlée). 160 apricot. 166 Agde. Council of. 61. 8. 132 aïoli. 86 appliances. 162–64 accras. 112–13. Nicolas. 1. 53 adulteration. 11 apiculture. 77. 23. 70–71. 156. stewed. 139 Americas. 10–13. 6. 18. 32. 6 . 60. 52. 75 Angevins. 18–28 angelica. 161 alcoholism. 141 anniversary. 148. recipe. 11. 66 ancien régime. 48. 38. 12 arbutus. 156.Index absinthe. 77–78 abundance. 35–37. 140 Aigues-Mortes.

13. 9 Benin. 4. 114. 93.R. 83. 135 bean. 65 beignet. 17 Bordeaux. 17. 118 bouquet garni. 5. 14 Bocuse. 144 Ash Wednesday. 64. 6. 152 Belgium. 6 Aucassin et Nicolette. 13. 70 banquet. 58 Attila the Hun. 143–44 Asia. 12 Beauvilliers. 113–14 Bleu d’Auvergne. 32–33. 11. 22. 3–4. 11. 119–20. 57. 144. 1. 13. 11. 92 Astérix. 132 bouillabaisse. 57 blood: in civet de lapin. 20–22. 43 bay leaf. Nicolas. 24. 143 aurochs. 133 basil. 121 birthday. 6. 8. 138–41. 17.). 18. 128–29 barbecue. 48 blueberry. 142. 4 Atlantic Ocean. 51. 47 boarding house. 23 Benedict of Nursia. 121–22. 139 asceticism. 67 Association des Maîtres cuisiniers de France. 72 berry. 75 asparagus. Paul. 66. 124 Art de bien traiter (L. 27. 47. 19. 3 Athenaeus. 8 authenticity. 2. 30 bourride. 165–66 beer. 120 Avignon. 5 Armistice Day. 66. 52 Bastille Day. 66 baguette. 30 artichoke. 13. Jacques. 7. recipe. 96. 71 baby food. 85 berlingot. 43 banana. 151 avocado. 163 boar. 62. Antoine. 144 army (food). 146–47 bar. Decimus Agnus. 13. 50. 7. 95 Boileau. 62. 18 Bonnefons. 6. 46. 143–44 Baudelaire. 60 beach food. 27 beaver. 3. 157 Beaune. 10. 2 bistro. 52 brains. 7 Barthes. See bread bakers. sausage. 134. 72 Biarritz. 126 Auvergne. 11. 3. 17. 144. 3. Roland. 159–60 bacon. 52. 19. 2. 53 . 27.S. 16. 10–11. 147–48 biscuit. 70–71 bêtise de Cambrai. 65 baeckeoffe. 1 Ausonius. 8–11. 4. 8–11. 135. 60 bourgeoisie. Charles. Étienne. 120. 6. 4. des Causses. 66 blanquette. 149–50 Index Battle of Fat and Lean. 128 blanc. 77. 8. 6. 2. 14. 2 beef. 119–21 beet. 6. 120 bagna cauda. 35–36 Borel. Nicolas de. 60 Basque country. 1. 2. 70 BMI (body mass index). 77 barrel. 149 barding.186 Arles. 19 Art de la cuisine française au 19e siècle (Carême). 51–52 boulangerie. 16 Boileau. 149. 49 brandade de morue. 50 barley. 13. 62 bass.

3. 8. 32–33. 4. 147. 25 butter. 65. 51. 162 cardoon. 10–12 carp. 49. Julius. 3–4. 2. 144. 127–28. 72 calvados. 34 Caesar. 13. 159 Brie de Meaux. 34. 26 cattle. 151–52 canned food. 121–22 Cannes. 13. 76 cassoulet. 23. 65. 67 cave painting. 14 butcher. 163 Burgundians. Marie-Antoine. recipe. 108–11. 28 BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy). 57 carrot. 162 brasserie. 11 capon. 165 Cantal. 3 cauliflower. 96 cassis. cotton. 4. 78 Camargue. 56–57 caper. 151–52 Carolingians. 77 cena. 62 Camembert. 3. 26–27. 11. 18. 141–42 breakfast. 10–12 . 131. 3.Index brandy. 66. 157 caterer. See also brasserie Britain. 56 Cadet de Gassicourt. 12 chanterelle. 145 caraway. 149 calf’s head. 69 Chantilly. 121. 119. 3 Capetians. 156. 146 Catholicism. Café Procope. 22. 6 Celts. 57 Candlemas. 72–73. recipe. 1 celery. 65 Cabécou. 162 Champagne. 131. 1. 44. 29–30. 145 Carnival. 67 brochette. 138–39. 16 chard. 25–26. 77 broccoli. 120 bread. 147 Champlain. 77. 47–48. 121–24 cake. 14. 73. 52 Carré de l’Est. 62. 26. 6. 77 cardiovascular disease. 3. Café de Flore. 29 Brittany. Jean Anthelme. 24. 143 187 candy. 6. crêpes. 146 caramel. 22. 112 brewery. 11–12 Capitulare de villis vel curtis imperii (Charlemagne). 5 chamomile. 54. 76. 77. 16. 41–43. 54. 151 cannibalism. 62–63 bulgar. seed. 106–7 bream. 11. 139 buckwheat. 12–13. 120. 107. 97 broiling. 144. 65. 62 bulimia. 84. Brasserie Lipp. 92. 17 La Chanson de Roland. 24 cafeteria. 58. 11. 73. 4. 157. 134. 13. 6. 66. 60 carbonade. Samuel de. 140–41 charity. 7. 149 charcutier. 143–44. 57. 127–28. 49 calisson d’Aix. 103–4. 162 carving. 4 café. 105. 165 bûche de Noël. 13. 143 cabbage. 49. 64. 21 charcuterie. 57 Brillat-Savarin. 120. 140 Carême. 6 Burgundy. 6. root. 12–14 Charlemagne. 52 breastfeeding. 62.

131 Columbian exchange. 2. 121. 17 comfit. 156–57 convivium. recipe. 60–61. 112. 58–59. 145 communion. 13. 19–20.188 Chartreuse. 159 children’s meals. 30. 88. 13. 54. 69. 13. recipe. 158. 32. 13. 62–63 Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease. 161 citron. 60–61 chocolate. 127. 59. 119 croquembouche. 144 Cortès. 78 chausson. 8. 1. 111. 139 Club des Cent. 42. 50–51 conversation. 105–6. 119. 137–42 cider. 50 Civil Law Code. 30. 44. 6. recipe. 148–49 cod. 30. 86 condiment. 49–54. 48 chive. 77–78. 23. 68. 70. 14–15. 28–29. Christopher. 75 chiffonnade. 17–18 Columbus. 53. 56–57 chicken. 62 coronary disease. 27. 64. 160 chickpea. 165 Crieries de Paris (Guillaume de Villeneuve). 112–13. 56–58. 159. 146–47. 61–62. 58 chef. 33. 157 Corsica. 2. 143. 130 cow. 11. 115 confectionary. 87 cookie. 139 cirrhosis. 45–47. buckwheat. 107–8 Cognac. 72–73. 59. 61 clove. 105. 13. 145 corn. 95 cocktail. 49. 119. 156. 131. 1 Côte d’Azur. 91–92 coriander. 10 christening. 74. 18 cream. 13. 157 chrism. 96–97. 5. 134. 3. 15. 2. apple. See also beef crab. 13. 6. 12. 66. 144. 16. 156–57 couscous. 56. 145 . 135. salted. 22. 118. 78. puffs. 53 Clermont-Ferrand. 160 cholesterol. 7. candied. 9. 73. 15. 91–100 cherry. 71 civet de lapin. 17–18. dried. 71. 6 chervil. 27–28. 5 cook. 1 cheese. 59. Hernando. 107–10. 143. 131–32. 106–8. 27 clam. 72. 112–15. 85 chitterling. recipe. 103. 120. 65 crêpes. 165. break. 89–91 cookbook. 17 Cosquer. 9. 11. brûlée. 2–3. 63–69. 65 childbirth. 87–90. 24. 66. 72 chèvre. 77 cinnamon. 22. 160 conviviality. 22–24. 75. 138. 4. 73. 138–39 coffee. 56. 72–73 confit (de canard and d’oie). 71 cranberry. 53 courses (of a meal). 129–30 cooking methods. 99–100 croissant. 9. 147. 145 compote. 15. 75. 6. 129. 74. 19–20. 2. 162 cooking school. 145–46 Christianity. 97–99. 60 chestnut. 65 crème: anglaise. 52–53. 68. 118 chicory. 69. fraîche. 7. 159–61 China. 71. 73 Chauvet. 19. 15. 162 Cointreau. sour. 6. 6. 16 critic (food). 64. 8–12 Christmas. 78 Index colonies.

143–44. 19 Le Cuisinier roïal et bourgeois (Massialot). 143–44 fat. 13. 153 fava. 125 crudité. 137–39. 51. 66. recipe. 143–44 189 L’École parfaite des officiers de bouche. 85 cuisine gastronomique. 149 crusades. 69 dessert. 23. Benjamin. 32 fennel. 6. 5. 66 Enlightenment. 24–27 Epiphany. 57 Escoffier. 121–22 ethics. 113. 59. 23 demi-deuil. 151–52 famine. 70–71 . 156. 145–46 duck. 26 Emmental. 8–9 European Union. 125–26. 6. See hunger farming. 163 Diderot. 1. 19 La Cuisinière bourgeoise (Menon). 59.Index croquette. See venison Deipnosophistae (Athenaeus). 65. 71 Émile. 20. 142 Époisses. 66 festival. 150–52 feudalism. 55–58. 69–75. 9. 22 Le Cuisinier françois (La Varenne). Augustin. des Arts et des Métiers (Diderot). 112–15 discount store. 46. red. 156–57 Father’s Day. 1 elderberry. 11. 64 feast. 6. 15. 13 digestif. 68 Einhard the Frank. Ministry of Education. goose and duck. See banquet La Femme du boulanger (Pagnol). 145–47 diabetes. 108–9 eel. 52. 77–78 dog. 121–22. 54 dairy products. 10 daube. See PAC (Politique agricole commune) fast food. 73 dinner. 82 disguise (in cooking). 67–68. 70. Denis. 11–14 fig. 162 Dijon. ou Dictionnaire raisonné des Sciences. 25 Dieppe. 17. 77 cucumber. 70. 131–32 fasting. 138–42. 11. 1. 10. 52 egg. 70 cuttlefish. 22 cumin. 114 decentralization. 164–65 Ethiopia. 26. 147 eggplant. 2. 49–51 Easter. 95–97 Le Cuisinier (Pierre de Lune). 109–11. 19. Auguste. 4 Delessert. 22 education (taste). 69 Dom Perignon. 69. ou de l’Éducation (Rousseau). 96. 5 Encyclopédie. 26. 3. 23 Eucharist. 31. 12–13. 61 Curnonsky (Maurice Edmond Sailland). 77–78. 5. 3. 19 distilling. See also regions deer. 66 cuisine du marché. 103–5. 11 einkorn. 56 Croze. 57 emmer. 37–38. 6. 124–25 currant: black. See agriculture farm subsidy. 139 dragée. 3. 50–51. 155–56 date. 25–26 endive. 9–10. 165–66 fair. 82. 64 Crottin de Chavignol.

160 funeral. 66. 11 Gascony. soup. 157 Font-de-Gaume. candied. 56. 49–51 gooseberry. 27–30. 5 gourmandise. 58 gourd. 135 French paradox. 76 grilling. 71. 142 Gallo-Romans. 1. Nicolas. 159 fouacier. 15. 3. 6. 2. 62 gaufrier. 48–49 garlic. See snack grain. 3. 60–61. 126. 2. 6. 71 Goscinny. 71 Grasse. 23 French fries. 47. 122 garbure. 8 gougères. 131 fromage blanc. 19 Gargantua (Rabelais). 63. 69–71. 8. 43 foie gras. 5. 3. 20–21 Framboisine. 112. 5–8. 147 Galen. 10–12 French (language). juice. recipe. Charles de. 29. Michel. 107. 51–53. 3. 138 Grand-Marnier. 13 Franks. Henri. 3. 5. 112 GMO (genetically modified organism). See Celts Gault. 93 . 78 ginger. 57 Guadeloupe. 74 grape. 75 Greeks. 132 foreign cuisines. 8 galette des Rois. 23 guava. 146. 8. 9. 28–29. 16 fougace. 24. 82–83 fruit. recipe. 145 grenadine. 18 goat. 9. 114. 58 Guérard. 44 grapefruit. 56 Gaulle. 1 food fight. 5–8 game. 135. 140 Index garum. 47. 75 Fouquet. 11. 4. 2–3. 20. 2. 6. 106. 99 Gruyère de Comté. 4. 34. 78 granité. 138. Henry. 19. 13. 78. 5. 144 Le Gobeur d’oursins (Picasso). 112 goûter. 68 flour. 6–8 gin. 5. 157 French toast. 64 garden (kitchen). See Battle of Fat and Lean le fooding. 18. 3 Goths. 6. 120. 51–52 flammekeuche. 119.190 fines herbes. 25–26. 130–31 fork. 17. 140. 12 French East India Company. 159 fishing. 147. 156. 13. 159–60. 16 Gaul. 11. 6. 164–66 Goa. 59 gluttony. 13. 97 gentian. 13 gastronomy. 134 Grimod de la Reynière. 97. 133–34 Ford. 25–26. 111 frog. 6. 50–51. 12. 126 fish. 125 Gauls. 17 Guérande peninsula. 54. 6–8. 53 God and gods. 138. 112. 74 François I. 78 Germans. 70 gamelle. 159 frozen food. 21 formula (baby). 8–9 goose. 60 Fischler. Claude. 2. 141. 120 flan. 112 gâteau de riz.

146 gurnard. 129. 8. 53 Hippocrates. 7. 33 infusion. 162 inn. 26 hunter-gatherer. 49 kiwi. 17 Jews. 70 knight. 75 industrialization. 4. 65. 64. 58 île flottante. 61–62. 163 Isère. 130–31 import. 23 herb. 74. 54 lardon. 137–45. 47–48 Lascaux. 123. 10 haute cuisine. 152 hake. 60 heritage: 109–10. 93 INSERM (Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale). 144 Languedoc. 3. 11. 160–64 heart. 85 India. 26 juniper berry. 6. 13 hops. 71 Israel. 46–47 horseradish. 14–15 Guinea fowl. 156–57. 161 herring. ou la Nouvelle Héloïse (Rousseau). 85 Halloween. 2. 78 kebab. 130. 77 horse. 26–27. 75 house-warming. 12. 83–84 Guillaume de Tirel (Taillevent). François Pierre de. 160. 12–14. 48. 135. 6. 152–53 hollandaise. 73 Henri IV. 162 harvest. 50 haricot. 76. 4. 71 Jerusalem artichoke. 162 191 ice cream. 113. 16. 13. 61 harmony. 49. 1. 160 hare. 14 hot chocolate. 122. 73. 46. 150–52. See brochette kidney. 71 jelly. 85 Italy. 7. 49. 1 hunting. 124–25 Le Guide culinaire (Escoffier). 19. 11 hypertension. 11–12 lamb. 60. 60. 96 guild. 120. 28. 6. 12. 145. 158–59 hospitality. 6. 1. Johann. 30–31. 52 Jordan almond. 73 immigrant cuisines. 71 . 157–58. 78 herbes de Provence. 65 hospital. 15 Les Halles. 9–10. 50. 2. 6. 157 lard. 75. 156–57. 49 hedgehog. 67. 14 INRA (Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique). 43. 139. See dragée Julie. 11. 46 hydromel. national. 149 hunger. 149–50. 11. 115 hostel. 58–60. 1 La Varenne. 5. 72 health. 57–58. 66–67 honey. 4. 66 harissa. public. 8–9. 61 John Dory. See cuisine gastronomique hazelnut.Index guide (restaurant). 70. 52 Gutenberg. 1. 6. 118. 97–99. 19 lavender. 34. 124–26. 19. 105. 13. 74 jam. 5 holidays. 135 Île de Ré. 52 ham. 6. 18. 67. 159 Honfleur.

18 Louis XVIII. 38 life expectancy. 100 Middle Ages. 22 menu. 4. 59 mâche. 77–78 liver. 70 Louis XIV. 23. 14 . 1. 9.S. 73. 5. 156 Mediterranean Sea. 128 Mercier. 82 leek. 49. 2. 122. 165–66 media. 13. 147 Lebanon. provisionary. 162 Mediterranean diet. 13. 9. 66 mackerel. 10–11 Le Mesnagier de Paris. 11. 12–16. 13. 157–59. 9. 18 Lot-et-Garonne. Pierre de. 19 Lyon..R. 162–63 Molière. 23. 85. 143 Martini. complaint. recipe. 111. 125 malt. 94–95. 134. 22 Michelin guide. 143–44 lentil. 27 lovage. marsh. 27. Édouard. 121–22. 15 metric system. 45–51. 64 Le Play. 28 Mexico. 161 mallow. 52 McDonald’s. 6. 77 monastery. 70–71. 10. 156–57 Lille. 60 Le Havre. 20. 48. 21–22 Monaco. 141 Menon. 157 medicine. See Marseille Mauresque. 18. 61. 10. 103–5. 3. 6. 132 meat. 25. 108–11. 53 madeleine. 95. 147 Lune. 24 marjoram. 51–54. 62 Leclerc. 124–25. 9. 8. 13. 139 Massialot. 97 miller. 52 Lorraine. 77 mayonnaise. 10 mint. 6. 4. 161. 71 Lent. 11. 129–30 Maine. 59 Meilleur Ouvrier de France. 55–56. 30 lime. 16 lobster. See corn malbouffe. 6. 78 Martinique. 94–95 merguez. Frédéric. 20 moderation. 55. 77 maize. 129. 76–78. 162 liqueur. 60 Index market. 146 Loire River. 6. 145 milk. 135 miracle. 66. 152 Malraux. 53. 160 millasse. 71 linden. 26 les Mères. 20–23 Louis XVI. 77 Marivaux. 34. 19 lunch. Louis-Sébastien. 113. 2. 155–57. star rating in. See also foie gras Livre des métiers (Étienne Boileau). 92 melon. André. 11 millet. 99–100. 65–66 liberalism. 66. 31 lettuce. 3. 57. 150 Marseille. 23 marzipan. 11 mise en place.192 layer cake. 22 Massilia. 13 lemon. 18 Millau. 76. 159–60. 2. Pierre Carlet de. Christian. 93. 6. 3–5. 151 Merovingians. 73. 6 L. 27–28. 2. 9. 23. 76. 129. 23. 120 mace.

74 Parmentier. 3. 11. 112 mushroom. 5–7. 4. 145 nutmeg. 160 . 5. 161 oats. olive. 2. 22 New Stone Age. 139 panaché. 74 Orange. 61. 54–55. 11. 52 oven. 59. 141 nouvelle cuisine. 61. 153 mousse au chocolat. 73. 73 offal. 59 nutrition. 118. 9. 70. 8 octopus. 57 Muscat. olive omelet. 77 Normans. 6. 1. 7. 14 papaya. 144 Mother’s Day. 61–62. 16 oursinade. 10. 9. 52 Munster. 54. 109–10. 6. 143 Nîmes. 53. 6. 38. 74. 60. 6 nun. 61. 10. 16. 14–15 noodle. 1 olive. 3. 8 Mossa. 119 Ojibwa. 6. 8. 66. 156 pain au chocolat. 1–2 New World food. 120 Paris-Brest. 27–28. 75. 143. 18 Old Stone Age. 62. 6 Nantes. 18 parsley. 1 Nice. 53. 22–23. Gustav-Adolf. 17–18. 85. 3. 139 pasta. See also oil. 10. 71–72. 13 obesity. 23. 35. 11–12. 70 Netherlands. 9 193 nut. 120 onion. 57 Morbier. 162–64 De observatione ciborum (Anthimus). 12 oyster. 100 Mosella (Ausonius). 69 Muslims. 48–49 oil. 57 morel. 115–16 Opéra. 17 Paris. 61 Normandy. 69 Morocco. 120 mustard. 60.Index Monbazillac. 121. 26. 139. 6 partridge. 73 pain d’épices. 71. Auguste. 50 Pas-de-Calais. 49 mussel. 112 monk. 6. 89 oxen. 6. 77 pan bagnat. 139 orange flower water. 121 Napoléon III. white. 156. 139. 7. 151 nobility. 138 PAC (Politique agricole commune). 76 oubloyer. 78 monkfish. 1. 6 oeufs à la neige. 150 natural food. 2. 66. 52. 30 mullet. 13 Napoléon I. 144–45 New Zealand. 120. 11–12 North Sea. 59 myrtle. 70 Niaux. 97–98 Numidia. 72. 118 pantner. 121 nationalism. 146 Mons. 73 Mulhouse. 141 orgeat. 67 New Year’s. 74. 19. 141. 53 nougat. 164–66 nectarine. 53 Odoacer the Goth. Hervé. 5 orange.

9. 103. 6 persillade. 10. Urban II. 25–26. 70–71 polenta. 13. 70 peanut. 65. 120 peasant. 2. 161 pheasant. 47–48. 1–4 preserves. 60 Peru. Marcel. 13 plaice. 70–71 pulse. 53 picnic. 6. 60 pizza. Zaccharias. 72 pissaladière. 10. 6 72 Index pistou. 70. 110. 69–74. 18. 112 plum. 17. 72. 49. 25. 60 pistachio. 17–18. chili. 15. 7. 3. 59. 17. Gregory III. 59 perfume. 12. 59 peppercorn. 139. 145–47 pig. 3. 2. 61–62. 114 Pouligny-Saint-Pierre. 17–19. 5. 6 pepper: bell. 55. 57 pope: Eugenius IV. 32 pennyroyal. 129 Provence. pigs’ feet. 49 .194 pasteurization. 6. 15. 69 Pernod. 73 praline. 3. 51. François. 13. 75 Périgord. 3. 24 pea. 18. 112. 107. 52 pilgrim. See heritage Le Paysan parvenu (Marivaux). 70 Pont-l’Évêque. 64 pumpkin. See Greeks phylloxera. 12. cured (see charcuterie) portion size. 52 pleasure. 52. 115 pike. 6. 59. 157. 163 Portugal. 119. 28–29. 166 pregnancy. 62 pomegranate. 152 quail. 1. 4. 145 patrimony. 64. 55 pastis. 134–35 pièce montée. 17 potato. white. 90 printing. 139–42 prune. 126. 135 pear. 70. 11–13. 68. 17 petit-four. 46. Leo III. 132 plague. black. green. 70. 65. 14 pineapple. 139 Picasso. 72 pharmaceutical. 29 Picardie. Pablo. 47–48. 24 protectionism. 56 poultry. 46. 63–64 pot-au-feu. 47 population. puff. 142. 15 processed food. 69. 74 pâtissier. 9. 132 Procope. 114–15 pottery. 37 Proust. 78 Persia. 6. 15. 66 peach. 6. 64. 162 pastry. long. 6. 145 Le pâtissier royal parisien (Carême). 145 Le pâtissier pittoresque (Carême). 49–51 pound cake. 6. 53 precautionary principle. 135 prawn. 118. 1. 73–74. 77 perroquet. 49 Phocaeans. 17 pine nut. 158–59 prehistory. 71 pressure cooker. 67–68. 77–78. 65. 12 pork. 104–5. Malagueta. 33 La Physiologie du goût (Brillat-Savarin). 1–2 poule-au-pot.

156–57. 119. 13–17. 120. 52. 88. 6. 122. 22. 27. for madeleines. 30 Rouff. 89 regions. 91–96. 131–32. 160 Salvian of Marseille. 30–32. 156 recipe. 58–59. 124–28. for gougères. 144. for ratatouille. 19. 59 quenelle. 38. for aïgo-boulido. 26–27. 113– 14. 124 rouille. 11. 120 sausage. for compote de pommes. 13. 65–66. 56–57 rose hips. 112 Ritz.Index quality: of food. 60 rosewater. 11. 50. 129– 30. 8 Roquefort. 6. 68 rationalization. 8–9. 86. 59 sage. 60 saint. 162 rosemary. Joël. 165–66. 121. 35–37. 34–35. 7. 53 . 123 réveillon. 74 roux. 1. 132–33 rationing. 71 rue. 70 rabbit. of life. 97 rowanberry. César. Jean Jacques. 3. 59. 134 sautéing. 62. 75 rôtisseur. for soupe à l’oignon. 16 safety (food). 112. 52 Roman Empire. 71 salmon. 70–71. 26 Roussillon. 98–100. 62–63. 4–10. coupon. 10 rhubarb. 87. 68. 14–15. 121 Robuchon. 9. 59 Rabelais. 62 195 sabayon. 10. 22. 65 scallop. 150–52 regulation. 16. 71 raspberry. Marcel. 110–11. 48–49 radish. 70–71 ratatouille. 119–21. 66 rockfish. 16 Rouen. 74 sacrifice. 145 Rome. 93 rocket. 48. Sylvester. 104–5. 164–66 saffron. Nicholas. paste. 138 salon. 48. 65. 115–16 De re coquinaria (Apicius). François. 13. 147. 74 Saint-Marcellin. 109. 70 rice. 11 refrigerator. 57 savory. 112 Savarin. 166 quatre épices. 11 Romans. 11. recipe. 117. 71. 3. 138–41 Revolution (of 1789). 61. 2. 52 quince. 6. 125–26. 62. 8 sardine. 14 sauerkraut. 67. 52 Rousseau. for cabillaud à la portugaise. 53 saucier. 6. for pompe à l’huile. Martin. 6. 65 raisin. 65 salt. 4. 152 salsify. for galettes bretonnes. 156– 57. 140. 141–42. 3. 20. 6. chains. for blanquette de veau. 57 salad. 6 rye. 124–26. 165–66 Renaissance. 159. See also wild rice rillettes. 10. 149 Rhine River. 145 restaurant. 139. 52. 60 Savoy cabbage. Sadalberga. 58. 144–45 Saint-Honoré. 8. 8.

93 Serres. 61. 10 stockfisch. 32. 74 soup. 57 tongue. 112 sea urchin. 107. recipes. 25. Gall. 68. 124–25. 141. 6. 97. 78 sweetbread. 52–53 semolina. 11 Index strawberry. 71. 49 squid. 120 tartine. Frederick. Tatin. 64 squab. 164 Suze. 65–66. 26 table d’hôte. 46–47. 107. 156–57. 23. 67. 5. 119 tabbouleh. 119. 58–60. 23 smoking. 37. 16. 130 St. 57. 159 Senderens. 75. 129 terroir. 160. 34–35. 46 Taillevent. 95. 14 Taylor. 139 spinach. 30 soda. 159 supper. 6. 121. 32–34. 70–71 street food. 147. 159. 165 skate. 15. 76. 147. beet. 98. 52 slave. 65 . 2. 2. 23–24 sunchoke. shop. 81–85. 4. 54 sugar. 115. 143–44 sickness. 6 sorbet. 72–73. 23. 60 sheep. 71. 6 shellfish. 34–35. 118–19 suet. 139 snipe. 53 steak-frites. 140 sorrel. See Jerusalem artichoke supermarket. 119. 53. 6. 3. 18. 88 Tomme de Savoie. 15. 6 Seven Deadly Sins. 160 sole. Mme de. 72. 30. à la russe. 141 split pea. 17–18. 28. 119 snack. 112 Sévigné. 50 socca. Strasbourg Oath. 65. 75 spelt. ou l’Imposteur (Molière). 65. 65 Spain. 70. 120. 66–67. 150–52 tourte aux blettes. 3. en salle. 10. 25. See Guillaume de Tirel Talleyrand. 53–54 shopping. 111–12. 124 tourism. 49 Tour de France gastronomique (Curnonsky and Rouff). 62 spices. 118 socialism. 129. à la française. 81–85 shrimp. 120 tartare. 23 service: à l’assiette. 96 serviceberry. 132 tea. 111. 7. 161–63. 52. 125 tavern. 120.196 sculpture (sugar). 104. 112. 60 tomate. 6. 21 shallot. 26 tagine. 49 Syria. 76. 115 sustainability. recipes. 163 snail. 1. 104. 145 searing. 28. 8 Third Republic. 71 Shrove Tuesday. 21–22 Taste Site. 49 Theuderic. 70–74. 6. 125–26 testicle. 88–89 Strasbourg. See under cod stove. 22. 17. 30. Olivier de. 30 tarragon. 60 tart. 17–19. 115–16. 122–23 thyme. 22–23. 160. 78 tomato. 54. 70 syrup. 62 Tableau de Paris (Mercier). 119 Tartuffe. Alain. 20. 120 sorb apple.

120–21 transhumance. 2. 156. 134 vending machine. 109–10. 55 United States. 18 wine. 28. 10–11. 85 verbena. 145–47 weekend. Napoleonic Wars. 118 Tunisia. 6 197 waffle. 4–6. FrancoPrussian War. 52 Troyes. 56. 31–32 World Health Organization. 65–66 vinegar. 44. 86–87. 23 Le Viandier (Guillaume de Tirel). 14–15 vichyssoise. 5. 1. 132 Zola. 1. 162 vanilla. 67–68. 4. 162 watercress. 52. 6. 61 whiting. 2–5. 16 waiter. 108 venison. 71. 121. 13. 17. recipe. See also Fischler. 104. 106. 68 . 76. 8. 2. 113–14 Véfour. 97. 9. 26. Second World War. 10–14. 3 UHT sterilization.Index toxoplasmosis. 37–38 train. 119. 158. 85 turkey. 155–56 water. 159. Michel. 138. 11. 98 Zidi. 138 turnip. recipe. 78 trout. 78 Versailles. 121–22. 89–90. Guillaume de. 45. Émile. 10. Hundred Years War. 128–29. 5 Villeneuve. 162 vegetarian. 69 tuna. 6 truffle. 75 Visigoths. 120. 126. 21. 33–37. 6 yogurt. 163 wrasse. 161 whale. 98 trou normand. 122. 113–15 Week of Taste. 50 worker. 13. 20–21 Vaux-le-Vicomte. 49 Troisgros. 30–31 utensil. 164–66 urbanization. 93. 52 wild rice. 159 traceability. 17–18. 3. 96 walnut. 157–59 women. 59. 165–66 trade. 65 UCO (Unidentified Comestible Object). 59 violet. 24–25. 65 watermelon. 123 Vatel. 11. 43–45. 60 Vienne. 61 turbot. 5. 140. Claude. 5 vermouth. 165. 156 Trésor gastronomique de la France (Croze and Curnonsky). 6. 27 vegetable. 113. 20–21 veal. 3–5. 125. 65–68. 71 wedding. 13. 85 zucchini. 23. Claude Uderzo. 49. 4–5. 15 wheat. 47 Le Ventre de Paris (Zola). 143–44. First World War. 16 vinaigrette. 76 Vercingétorix. 9 Trente glorieuses. 125 tripe. 150 transubstantiation. 6. 8. 75 VAT (value added tax). 46. 162 young cuisine. 7. François. 16. 52 Turkey. 71 war: Battle of Fat and Lean. 160. 160 vacation. 94–95 woodcock.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR JULIA ABRAMSON is Associate Professor of French at the University of Oklahoma. Norman. .

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